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2020 Spanish GP Race Recap : Hammer Time in the Mediterranean

The Circuit de Catalunya was the venue for the sixth round of the 2020 Formula One season and the last race of the second triple-header of 2020. The circuit, situated in the town of Montmelo near Barcelona, Catalunya is the most used track on the calendar with the teams participating in two pre-season tests held here besides the GP itself. The Spanish GP is held in May but got postponed to August due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Circuit de Catalunya is a track that has a "little bit of everything" and tests the true capability of a car. Deficiencies if any, are exposed on this fast, flowing, high downforce circuit and the respective lap times indicate the real pecking order of the F1 grid.


The recently concluded 70th Anniversary GP served up a thrilling race thanks to the tyre choice made by Pirelli for the second weekend in Silverstone. However, the Italian marquee decided to take a conservative approach for Catalunya and chose the hardest tyre compounds ( C1, C2 and C3 ) for the Spanish GP weekend. 

Sergio Perez, who had missed the two races at Silverstone, returned to racing with Racing Point after testing negative for Covid-19. 

The FIA also decided to ban "quali modes" after the Spanish GP weekend, intending to bring more parity in the field. The teams will have to run the same engine mode for qualifying and the race from next GP ( Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium ).


More Details about the ruling here :

https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/article.qualifying-engine-modes-what-are-the-proposed-changes-and-why-do-they-matter.OI3cSGqWS6mONcBHUFncL.html


Red Bull bagged a great victory with Max Verstappen at the 70th Anniversary GP. Mercedes suffered due to the higher track temperatures and tyre blistering.

The weather forecast for the Spanish GP weekend wasn't any different.


Did we have a repeat of the previous race or did Mercedes overcome the gremlins to take another victory in 2020? Did Ferrari have a better outing with a higher downforce package? Were Racing Point, Renault and McLaren able to get into the sharp end of the grid? Were Haas F1 and Alfa Romeo able to score points this weekend?

Time for a recap of the events from the weekend!



Practice :


Vettel ( Ferrari ) and Sainz ( McLaren ) got a new chassis for the weekend, the duo hoping to address the issues they faced from the opening rounds. 

Williams Reserve Driver, Roy Nissany got the nod for a practice session, in place of George Russell, the Israeli rookie following his father's footsteps who was the reserve driver for Minardi in 2005. Stroll and Perez came within close contact of Bottas and Raikkonen in the tight and twisty last section of the circuit. The Finns had to relent and give up on their laps. Bottas narrowly missed hitting a bird on one of his flying laps while debutant Nissany suffered a spin ( at turn 10 ) while getting to grips with his Williams. George Russell took to pit lane duties and acted as the lollipop man for his team. 
Bottas was the fastest in Free Practice 1, four-hundredths of a second clear of his team-mate Hamilton. Verstappen was third lastest, less than a second adrift. Leclerc and Vettel were 4th and 5th for Ferrari with Grosjean joining them in the top 6 in his Haas. Perez was P7 for Racing Point. Albon, Magnussen and Stroll completed the top 10. McLaren could only manage P11 and P13 while the Renault drivers set the 12th and 18th fastest times. Giovinazzi and Raikkonen ( P15 and P16 ) split the Alpha Tauris of Gasly and Kvyat. Latifi and Nissany were 19th and 20th for Williams.

Everyone set their representative lap times on the soft tyres except for Perez, Stroll, Ocon and Nissany who were on mediums.


Free Practice 2 was an eventful session with low fuel runs and racing simulations for almost all drivers. Mercedes was the class of the field with Hamilton, three-tenths of a second clear of Bottas. A wobble at the exit of turn 15 along with a trip across the gravel denied Bottas a clean session. Verstappen kept the Mercedes duo honest in third while Ricciardo catapulted his Renault to P4. Haas F1 was in the top 6 again with Grosjean repeating his performance of FP1 with the 5th fastest time. Leclerc ensured works Ferrari representation with P6 while Sainz improved to P7 for McLaren. The Spaniard still struggled with cooling issues on his car. The Stewards reprimanded Sainz for using the run-off area for gaining a position on a slower car, the manoeuvre saving him brake usage. Perez was P8 for Racing Point while Ocon got both Renault cars into the top 10 with P9. It wasn't a trouble-free session for the Alpha Tauri duo with both drivers spending a considerable amount of time in the garage. However, Gasly was able to set the tenth fastest time while Kvyat was only P15, his flying lap compromised by a Williams on the racing line. Stroll was P11 for Racing Point while Vettel was down to P12 in his Ferrari. Albon's travails on a Friday continued with only the 13th fastest time. Norris was P14 from Kvyat, Magnussen, Raikkonen and Giovinazzi. Russell returned in FP2 but was critical of the lack of grip quipping that it felt like "driving on ice". He was the slowest of the session, three-tenths of a second off his less experienced team-mate Latifi's best time. 

Only six-tenths of a second separated P6 from P16, suggesting a tight midfield battle could unfold on Qualifying day. Haas was encouraged by their strong showing on Friday while Alfa Romeo still had no answer for their lack of pace. Red Bull was the best of the rest on Friday with Mercedes holding a considerable advantage over one lap pace. The race simulations in FP2 saw some running the medium tyres and some the hards. The Red Bull cars did comparable lap times with the Mercedes cars on the medium tyres. Christian Horner, the Red Bull Team Principal, believed that this could reduce the deficit come Sunday.


Haas F1 broke the curfew restrictions on Friday night to change the Power Unit on Grosjean's car, the first of their two exemptions in the season. McLaren changed the Internal Combustion Engine, MGU-H and MGU-K to mitigate any issues of cooling on Sainz' car.  


Hamilton led another Mercedes 1-2 in Free Practice 3. Searing track temperatures put a strain on the soft tyres with Mercedes asking its drivers to drive under the shade of the grandstands to cool them down. The lap times got faster as drivers laid rubber on the track. Hamilton made full use of track evolution and was a tenth and a half clear of his team-mate. Verstappen was third, half a second slower with Sainz, Perez and Leclerc completing the top 6. Alpha Tauri looked strong going into Qualifying with P7 for Gasly. Stroll, Albon and Ricciardo completed the top 10. Ocon was P11 but suffered a late crash that brought out the Red Flag and ended the session. The Frenchman got overtaken by Magnussen who seemed to back out of his flying lap three hundred metres later. Magnussen then tried to move off the racing line to the middle of the track when Ocon caught up at turn 3. Ocon, however, didn't react soon enough and had to do a hard turn to avoid ramming Magnussen from behind. The sudden change of direction sent him into the wall, damaging the front portion of his Renault. The stewards investigated the incident but deemed it as "no action necessary" since data on Magnussen's car showed that he was harvesting energy and Ocon had enough time to react. Vettel was P12 in the other Ferrari, ahead of Grosjean and Raikkonen. Norris could only manage P15 with Kvyat, Magnussen, Giovinazzi and the two Williams bringing up the rear of the field. 



Qualifying :

It was a long afternoon for Renault mechanics who got Ocon's car ready, just in time for qualifying. Q1 got underway with the entire field opting for soft tyres. It was a close contest with one second separating P1 from P15. Hamilton, Perez, Stroll, Bottas, Verstappen and Sainz were the provisional top 6 with Grosjean, Raikkonen, Magnussen, Latifi and Giovinazzi in the drop zone. Giovinazzi asked the team to check for floor damage after running wide on the penultimate corner and bouncing over the kerbs. Kvyat had allegedly impeded Magnussen on his flying lap, the stewards deeming it necessary for investigation post-qualifying. A huge bottle-neck formed up in the final minutes of Q1 as the drivers jostled for clear air and track position. The lap times tumbled due to track evolution. Raikkonen catapulted his Alfa Romeo to P14 before ending on the cusp of elimination. The others behind couldn't go faster. Alfa Romeo was into Q2 for the first time this season! Magnussen, Grosjean, Russell, Latifi and Giovinazzi were the drivers eliminated in Q1 with Hamilton being the fastest from Perez, Verstappen, Bottas and Leclerc. The loss of pace for Haas F1 flummoxed one and all, the chances of a promising result seemed bleak.


Tyre choices dominated team discussions in Q2. The teams would run "quali modes" for the last time in the turbo era. All the drivers opted for the soft tyres for their first run in Q2. The order after the first runs was - Hamilton, Bottas, Verstappen, Sainz, Leclerc, Perez, Stroll, Norris, Albon, Ricciardo, Vettel, Ocon, Gasly, Kvyat and Raikkonen. Both the Mercedes drivers and Verstappen chose not to run in Q2 while the rest of the field bar Raikkonen exited the pits on a fresh set of soft tyres. Raikkonen didn't have any new soft tyres left and had to use the mediums for his final run in Q2. The top three remained unchanged with Stroll improving to P4 and Gasly producing a stellar lap to jump up to P5. Sainz, Perez, Leclerc, Albon and Norris completed the top 10. Albon and Norris scraped through to Q3, escaping elimination by five-thousandths and three-thousandths of a second! A lucky escape indeed! Most of the runners were unable to improve on their final runs into Q2, track temperatures going outside the operating range of the soft tyres being the probable cause. Vettel was the big casualty of Q2, failing to make it into Q3 again by the smallest of margins. These setbacks never seemed to end for the four-time world champion. Kvyat was P12 while Renault had a forgettable Saturday with Ricciardo in P13 and Ocon in P15. Raikkonen qualified P14 for Alfa Romeo, faster than a Renault, with medium tyres and narrowly missing a chance of getting into Q3 ( 0.22 seconds slower ). He believed the car had the pace to qualify in the top 10, but for the shortage of soft tyres!


The top-ten shootout got underway a few minutes later. Red Bull released Albon into the path of Hamilton, the latter having to take evasive action. The contenders for pole were out on soft tyres for their banker laps in Q3. Five chose the used soft tyres for their first run - Norris, Sainz, Gasly, Leclerc and Albon. 

Hamilton was on provisional pole, five-hundredths of a second clear of Bottas in P2. Verstappen was P3 from Perez, Stroll and Norris. Leclerc, Albon, Sainz and Gasly completed the provisional top 10. The final minutes of Q3 saw changes in the pecking order with everyone switching to a fresh set of soft tyres. Bottas set the fastest overall time in the second sector but ran out of grip in the final section. He couldn't improve on his first run. Hamilton couldn't improve on his previous lap time either. The Racing Point cars of Perez and Stroll were unable to break into the top 3. Verstappen pushed hard in his Red Bull yet failed to split the Mercedes. Albon improved to P6 in the other Red Bull followed by Sainz and Norris in P7 and P8. Leclerc had reported abnormal engine behaviour on his out-lap but went faster on his final run. He was P9 from Gasly, both a second and a half adrift of the fastest time. Kvyat got a formal warning for his impeding infringement in Q1.


Hamilton was on pole for the 92nd time in his career! Bottas completed a Mercedes front-row. Red Bull was pleased to see both their cars in the top 6 while Racing Point posed a potent challenge to the Milton-Keynes based outfit. The McLarens were there again, ready to pounce on any slip-ups by the drivers ahead. Ferrari continued to be off the pace, despite their higher downforce setup. Alpha Tauri had a great qualifying session and hoped to score some points on Sunday. It was a better showing for Alfa Romeo on Saturday while Renault had their work cut out for Sunday. Haas F1 and Williams Racing were a disappointment, yet again. 



Race :

Red Bull changed the ICE, Turbo, MGU-H and MGU-K on Verstappen's car ahead of the race. They were components used earlier, so no penalty incurred. Racing Point also took new control-electronics and energy store for Perez. 

There was a 20% risk of rain during the race. Vettel, Ricciardo, Raikkonen, Ocon, Grosjean, Latifi and Giovinazzi started the race on medium tyres, the rest choosing the softs. The Mercedes drivers used their DAS system to good effect on the formation lap, bringing their tyres to optimum temperatures.




Hamilton had a clean start off the line with Bottas' slower launch getting him swamped into turn 1. Verstappen and Stroll got mega starts and used the tow to jump him on the 600m drag to turn 1. Verstappen was up into P2 with Stroll demoting Bottas to P4. Perez tried to make it worse for the Mercedes driver but couldn't make it work. Norris got bogged down and fell back to P10. Further down the field, Giovinazzi made up a place on Latifi while Ricciardo also gained a couple of places. Gasly was up to P8 while Kvyat made a pass on Ricciardo for P12 on lap 2.


Hamilton was 1.5 seconds clear of Verstappen at the front. Mercedes asked Bottas to quickly dispatch Stroll so that his race wouldn't be compromised. He tried a couple of times with DRS assistance but the Canadian held firm. It was job done on lap 5 with Verstappen the next target, three seconds further up the road. Russell got past Grosjean for P17 on the same lap as Verstappen tried to maintain his advantage with the fastest lap of the race. Bottas, in clean air, went faster on lap 6. Red Bull informed Verstappen that the gap to Hamilton was reducing, the Briton trying to control the pace of the race while extending his stint on the soft tyres. Albon, in the other Red Bull, was closing in on Perez whose tyres had started to overheat. 


The top ten at the end of lap 10 were Hamilton, Verstappen, Bottas, Stroll, Perez, Albon, Sainz, Gasly, Leclerc and Norris. McLaren was confident about "Plan A" ( race strategy ) for Sainz, as communicated to him on the team radio. 


Hamilton put in a series of fastest laps from laps 10 to 13 as Verstappen continued to complain about his tyres and a tail-wind which had picked up out of turn 7, hampering his drive. The field had begun to spread out with only Kvyat and Raikkonen the drivers within DRS range of the cars in front of them. Kvyat tried to make a move on Vettel for P11 under DRS but wasn't close enough. The battle for P14 was hotting up between Magnussen, Raikkonen and Ocon. 


Albon was the first of the front runners to pit on lap 18 for hard tyres. He rejoined in P16, right in the thick of the Magnussen, Raikkonen and Ocon battle. Russell pitted on lap 20 for medium tyres, rejoining in P20. Albon tried to make an overtake on Ocon but had to back out of it. Ocon, on the other hand, got past Raikkonen for P15 with Albon doing the same a couple of corners later. The Alfa Romeo driver had no more grip and pitted for a fresh set of medium tyres on lap 21.


Frustration over lack of grip due to tyre-wear left Verstappen fuming. Red Bull fulfilled his wish to pit, on lap 22, executing a 1.9 seconds pit stop to bring him out just ahead of Stroll and Perez in P3 with medium tyres. A flurry of pitstops followed over the next couple of laps. Gasly, Norris, Kvyat and Giovinazzi pitted on lap 23 with Norris choosing the soft tyres and the rest, the mediums. Mercedes decided to do a "double-stack" and pitted both its drivers for a fresh set of mediums. It was a slower stop for Hamilton with an issue on his left rear tyre. Thankfully, he didn't lose track position to Verstappen. Bottas, however, was demoted back to P3 after their first round of pit stops. Sainz pitted on lap 25 for soft tyres and rejoined in P12, being passed by Albon out of turn 1. 


Kvyat made a move on Latifi for P16 while Albon got stuck in traffic in P11, the strategy call not paying off. He came under intense pressure from Sainz who was on fresher tyres. Verstappen wasn't too pleased with Red Bull continuously informing him about the strategies adopted by the Mercedes duo. He reprimanded his engineer for being too preoccupied with what others were doing and asked him to focus on their performance instead. Meanwhile, Kvyat went past Grosjean for P15 and Raikkonen overtook Latifi for P18. Stroll pitted on lap 28 for mediums and rejoined in P8. Magnussen lost places in the space of one lap to Ocon, Albon and Sainz. He immediately pitted, along with Latifi, for fresh medium tyres while Latifi switched to the hard set. There was more action on track with Sainz relegating Albon to P11 on lap 29, thanks to his fresher tyres. 


Perez, Leclerc and Vettel were the next drivers to pit on lap 30. Perez and Leclerc switched over to the mediums while Vettel chose the soft tyres. Leclerc and Vettel rejoined in 13th and 14th, respectively. Perez rejoined in P7, just behind Sainz who was completing an overtake manoeuvre on Ocon into turn 1. Ricciardo, Ocon and Grosjean were the drivers who still hadn't pitted. Perez regained track position on Sainz with an overtake on lap 31 while Leclerc got past Kvyat for P12Russell got past Grosjean for P15 and Leclerc had honed in Norris on lap 32. 


Perez tried a daring move on Stroll on lap 33, much to the displeasure of the team principal Ottmar Szafnauer. Stroll held on to P5. Further down the field, Raikkonen made a move on Grosjean for P16. Grosjean pitted on lap 34, rejoining in P19 with soft tyres on his car. Albon moved up into P8 with an overtake on Ocon. Leclerc went wheel-to-wheel with Norris for P11, but the latter put up a strong defence despite a couple of lock-ups. Ricciardo finally pitted on lap 36 for a set of soft tyres, rejoining in 13th while Russell pitted for a set of medium tyres, down to P18. Ferrari informed Vettel that there was rain forecasted around lap 50. However, they had weightier issues to address on lap 37. Leclerc spun, getting stuck at turn 14 and unable to get going again. Replays showed that the Monegasque's engine had given up, sending him into a spin. The problem seemed terminal even though he recovered from the shutdown. Leclerc wanted to pit as his seat-belts had gotten loose as well.


Hamilton was now 9 seconds clear of Verstappen. Bottas, Stroll, Perez, Sainz, Albon, Gasly, Norris and Kvyat completed the top 10 at the end of lap 40. Leclerc pitted on lap 41 to address the issues on his car. Albon also pitted, for a fresh set of medium tyres and rejoined in P11. The Ferrari mechanics couldn't repair the car and wheeled Leclerc into the garage and retirement. A disappointing end to a promising Sunday. The battle at the front intensified with Bottas reducing the deficit to Verstappen, the latter pitting for the second time ( lap 42 ) for another set of medium tyres. Sainz pitted a lap later and managed to rebuff a challenge by Albon for P10 on exiting the pits. Bottas set the fastest lap of the race on lap 43. 


The second round of pit-stops had begun. Stroll and Gasly pitted on lap 44 for softs and mediums, rejoining in P8 and P11, respectively. Norris pitted on lap 46 for medium tyres, rejoining behind Gasly. Hamilton now held the fastest lap time. Raikkonen pitted from P14 for soft tyres and rejoined in 19th. Kvyat and Giovinazzi followed suit a lap later, opting for mediums and softs. Bottas pitted on lap 48 for soft tyres while Vettel asked the team's opinion on pitting again. He was in P5 but converting to a one-stop strategy seemed to be a tough ask. Bottas had to bridge a six seconds gap to Verstappen and had the fastest tyres under him. Meanwhile, Hamilton discussed tyre choices with his team and demanded the medium set for his final stint. Mercedes heeded to his demand in his pit stop on lap 51.


Perez was found guilty for ignoring blue flags and came under investigation. He got a five-second time penalty for his infringement ( lap 53 ). Ferrari, unsure of their plans, asked Vettel about the possibility of extending his soft tyres stint till the end. The German was exasperated, asking why they didn't consider this earlier, presumably before he started taking extra life out of his tyres.
Daniil Kvyat was next on the list to receive a five-second time penalty, ignoring blue flags the crime again ( lap 56 ). 


Bottas was unable to close the gap to Verstappen ahead, the Dutchman extending his cushion to more than seven seconds! There was no sign of rain in the closing stages of the race. Racing Point asked Stroll to push, realising that an overtake would have to be made on track for P5. Stroll completed the move on Vettel on lap 57 with DRS assistance. He had clear air ahead of him and a chance to bag P4 from his team-mate Perez should he finish within five seconds off him. Ocon got past Magnussen for P13. Raikkonen completed an overtake on Grosjean for P16 on the pit straight ( lap 59 ) but wasn't happy with the Frenchman. Grosjean moved under braking, once again and Raikkonen had to slam on the brakes to avoid ramming him from behind. The Flying Finn made another move on the same lap, snatching P15 from Russell. 


Stroll was catching Perez who like Vettel had opted for a one-stop strategy. Stroll was comfortably within the five-second bracket, so a P4 finish was assured. Sainz demoted Vettel to P7 ( lap 60 ) with Albon lining him up next. Grosjean tangled with Giovinazzi while unsuccessfully defending P17 and ran wide at turn 1, causing debris from his car to end up on the track. Hamilton drove over that debris and got concerned about damage. Thankfully, all was ok. The Stewards decided to investigate the Grosjean and Giovinazzi incident after the race. Raikkonen relegated Magnussen to P15 on lap 61 while Giovinazzi completed an overtake on Russell a lap later. The Mercedes duo sparred for the fastest lap of the race on lap 63. Bottas cut the deficit to Verstappen to two seconds, but it was too little too late. He had lost performance on his soft tyres. Grosjean pitted on lap 65 after suffering a tank-slapper at turn 9.


Bottas pitted on the penultimate lap for medium tyres, resigned to P3 but determined to grab the fastest lap point. A train of cars had formed up behind Vettel; Albon, Gasly, Norris and Ricciardo all vying for a higher finish. The German managed his defence of P7 well, positioning his car and using his battery power sensibly to fend off attack after attack from Albon. 


Lewis Hamilton took the chequered flag and victory at the 2020 Spanish GP! Max Verstappen came home in 2nd, 24 seconds adrift. Bottas set the fastest lap of the race on the last lap, completing the podium in P3. Stroll and Perez were P4 and P5 for Racing Point followed by Sainz, Vettel, Albon, Gasly and NorrisRicciardo was P11 for Renault from Kvyat, Ocon and Raikkonen. Magnussen, Giovinazzi, Russell, Latifi and Grosjean completed the classified runners. 




Hamilton had dominated on a Sunday again. He had lapped everyone up to P4 and was in a league of his own. It was his 88th career victory, three short of the record of 91 wins of Michael Schumacher. He surpassed the German with this result being his 156th podium finish! Another record for the six-time World Champion.



Kimi Raikkonen, too set a record this weekend. The Finn achieved the record of longest distance raced in an F1 car ( 83846 km ) which equates to 2 full laps of the earth. He accomplished this feat on lap 37 of the race! Kudos!


Vettel crossed 3000 points in his F1 career with his 7th place.


Mercedes bounced back from the disappointment of last weekend with another flawless win. They would be a tad disappointed with Bottas' race, but except for Verstappen, no one else poses a threat to their title chances. Red Bull needs to have both cars contending with the Mercedes, and the onus is on Albon to improve from the next race. Racing Point continues its upward climb despite the reprimands and protests of their competitors. There was another protest lodged by Renault which got withdrawn as the Technical Delegate had already highlighted the ( same ) brake duct design to the stewards. Racing Point got another reprimand this weekend.


Ferrari would rue a missed opportunity for a double-points finish with the electrical failure on Leclerc's car. It was a mini-revival for Vettel, his P7 finish testament to his never-give-up attitude. Alpha Tauri would be pleased with Gasly's result, the Frenchman's reputation rising with each race weekend. McLaren and Renault seem to be going through a blip in form and need to improve their overall performance to stay in touch with the high flying Racing Point. Alfa Romeo would be encouraged with a better showing on Saturday and Sunday, but finishing in the points remains a target. Haas F1 and Williams Racing have a lot of work to do over the next fortnight if they are to stem this decline in 2020.




The season resumes in a fortnight at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps ( Belgium ), the next destination on the F1 calendar. It will be the first race of the next triple-header of the season. An iconic track with unique challenges that only a classic F1 circuit can present, the Belgian Grand Prix must not be missed!


Time for the drivers to refresh, regroup and return for round seven, in a fortnight!

2020 70th Anniversary GP Race Recap : Max-imum Attack on a Bull-ish Sunday!

It is the 70th year of racing for Formula 1. The Pinnacle of Motorsport has enthralled fans through the seven decades of its existence returning this weekend to the place where it all began, 70 years ago! Silverstone played host to this special event, the race christened as the 70th Anniversary GP.

There was a lot of buzz in the world of F1 leading up to this historic weekend.

Pirelli investigated the tyre delaminations of the previous weekend and stated that these were due to the "extremely long use" of the tyres after an early Safety Car in the race. The 70th-anniversary event would pose a new challenge with the tyres being a level softer. Higher track temperatures than the previous weekend meant that teams would need to conserve their harder sets for the race, limiting their simulation runs in Free Practice sessions.

On the Protests front, the FIA reviewed the documents and technical data submitted against Racing Point ( by Renault ) over the past four race weekends and upheld the protest. Racing Point had copied the front brake ducts ( of Mercedes ) for their 2019 car ( when it was allowed ) but copied the rear brake ducts for 2020 ( which wasn't allowed ). FIA ruled this as a breach of Sporting Regulations and docked 15 points off Racing Point's points tally along with a 400,000 Euros fine as a financial penalty.

Thankfully, the RP20 was considered legal and allowed to participate in the championship in its current avatar. The team is contemplating an appeal against this decision.

Renault however, isn't happy with the severity of the sentence and plans to appeal for higher sanctions against Racing Point. Ferrari already has, other teams might follow suit.


More Details about the FIA Ruling here :

https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/article.breaking-racing-point-deducted-15-points-and-fined-heavily-as-renault.7j9tsLSAm7rXnWHxH1Uy9c.html


Sergio Perez, who tested positive for Covid-19 last weekend hadn't recovered in time and would miss the 70th Anniversary GP as well. Racing Point retained Nico Hulkenberg as his replacement. The German would hope for a trouble-free Sunday after failing to start last weekend's race due to a faulty clutch-bolt.


So who reigned supreme in the countryside of Silverstone?

Was the 70th Anniversary of the sport a memorable day in its history?


Time for a quick recap!



Practice :


Valtteri Bottas was the fastest in Free Practice 1 from Hamilton and Verstappen. Hulkenberg had an impressive start to the weekend in P4. Ferrari was in the mix with Leclerc in P5 ( with their low-downforce setup ) while Albon completed the top 6, a second adrift of the fastest time. Vettel had an off-track moment but managed to set the 7th fastest time. Stroll, Kvyat and Ocon completed the top 10. McLaren didn't feel bullish this weekend, their drivers spending the session learning about the soft tyres. Grosjean was the fastest Ferrari customer car, splitting the McLarens with the 13th fastest time. The Williams duo was 15th and 16th fastest, Latifi slowly getting up to pace with the FW43.  Ricciardo struggled in FP1 and could set only the 17th fastest time. Raikkonen was 18th from Kubica, the Polish reserve driver getting a session instead of Giovinazzi. Raikkonen believed there was more speed in the car and hoped to finish in the points this weekend. However, he still suffered from balance issues and had a couple of off-track excursions. Kevin Magnussen was P20 in his Haas. Everyone set their representative lap times on the soft tyres.


The drivers chose to experiment with their tyres ( some mediums, some softs ) in Free Practice 2. Lewis Hamilton was the fastest in the session and had set his time with a set of medium tyres. Bottas was P2, less than two-tenths of a second slower than his team-mate. Ricciardo produced a stellar lap, bumping up his Renault into P3, just clear of Verstappen's best time in 4th. Stroll and Hulkenberg were P5 and P6 for Racing Point. Hulkenberg's race simulation program was a bit compromised after the team had to address his seating issues. Leclerc was the fastest Ferrari with the 7th fastest time. Norris and Sainz were back up into the top 10 with Ocon hot on their heels. Albon had another challenging FP2; the Thai driver suffering from balance issues on his Red Bull. Alpha Tauri had another strong showing in free practice with P12 and P13. Vettel could only manage P14 in the other works Ferrari car. The four-times World Champion suffered from an engine failure near the end of the session, grinding to a halt on the old pit straight. The Stewards initiated a Virtual Safety Car period due to excessive oil on the track. Grosjean was again the faster of the two Haas cars in P15 ahead of Russell and Raikkonen. Magnussen managed the 18th fastest time while Latifi was 19th in the other Williams. Giovinazzi, who sat out FP1 for Kubica also suffered a mechanical failure and had to ditch his Alfa Romeo at a run-off area at Becketts. The session was subsequently red-flagged and ended by the Stewards.

Race simulation programs from FP2 suggested that almost all teams would need a 2-stop strategy for the race. Mercedes was still the quickest of the lot but less than half a second separated P6 from P15. Qualifying would be a close-run affair with tyre choice being paramount for the midfield runners.


Mercedes reigned supreme in Free Practice 3 as well. Hamilton was the fastest from Bottas and Norris. Norris was the only driver to set his fastest lap time on medium tyres. Racing Point was in the top 6 with Hulkenberg and Stroll. Ferrari chose to change Leclerc's Power Unit as a "precautionary measure". Leclerc was P6 from the Red Bull duo of Verstappen and Albon. Verstappen was held up by Stroll and had to back off on his first run. Ocon and Sainz completed the top 10. The Alpha Tauris remained quicker than Vettel, the German having a complete lack of pace over one lap. Ricciardo could only manage the 14th fastest time. Grosjean was P15, Latifi and Russell P16 and P17. Giovinazzi, Raikkonen and Magnussen brought up the rear of the field. An intriguing Qualifying session awaited the drivers.



Qualifying :


Q1 got underway with everyone but Russell, Grosjean and Magnussen on soft tyres. Verstappen complained about gusty conditions which were putting the cars out of balance at Maggotts and Becketts. The Stewards decided to investigate an incident between Ocon and Russell, the former guilty of trudging slowly on the racing line. Leclerc, Verstappen and Hulkenberg did not opt for a second run as others drove out on another set of fresh tyres. Bottas set the fastest time in Q1 from Hamilton and Albon. Verstappen, Gasly, Stroll, Norris, Ocon, Hulkenberg and Leclerc completed the top 10. Vettel managed to scrape through to Q2 in P14 while Russell ensured William's representation with the 15th fastest time. Kvyat was safely in the top 15 after his final run but had his lap time deleted due to exceeding of track limits at turn 15. The Russian was immensely disappointed at the end of the session and the first casualty of qualifying. Magnussen, Latifi, Giovinazzi and Raikkonen were the other eliminations. Alfa Romeo had brought upgrades this weekend but still seem to lack outright pace. It is quite a frustrating period for the Swiss-based outfit.


Q2 was the most intriguing of the Qualifying sessions as teams had to debate on the choice of tyres for their drivers. Red Bull rolled the dice by sending Verstappen out on hard tyres. Russell chose the soft tyres while the rest of the field opted for the mediums. Hulkenberg got compromised on his banker lap after an off-track at Chapel. Bottas, Hamilton and Ricciardo were the top 3 after the first runs. Verstappen set the 5th fastest time. Ricciardo and Verstappen decided to stay in the pits with Hamilton, Bottas, Vettel, Leclerc and Sainz choosing the softs for their final run. The rest opted for the mediums hoping to qualify into Q3. Bottas, Hulkenberg, Hamilton, Gasly, Ricciardo, Albon, Stroll, Leclerc, Verstappen and Norris made it into Q3. Hamilton, Bottas and Leclerc had backed off on their final run and would start the race on medium tyres.

Ocon, Vettel, Sainz, Grosjean and Russell were the eliminations in Q2. Vettel was four-tenths of a second slower than his team-mate, another disappointing Saturday for the German. Data showed that both Ferrari cars were struggling in the high-speed corners. Sainz too had a challenging qualifying but had the luxury of a free tyre choice for the start of the race.


The final shoot-out in qualifying brought another mixed bag with tyre choices. Ricciardo, Albon and Verstappen put on the medium tyres for their banker laps of Q3. Hamilton laid down the gauntlet with the fastest time on his soft tyres. Bottas was hot on his heels. Ricciardo, Hulkenberg, Verstappen and Albon constituted the best of the rest.
A change in track temperatures in the final minutes of Q3 brought about another discussion between teams and their drivers over the right tyre choice. Hamilton, Bottas and Ricciardo deduced that the medium tyres were the best fit in current conditions. The rest of the participants chose a more aggressive route with the soft tyres. The final minutes of Q3 would decide the fate of those who made the right call with their tyres. It was a close contest between the Mercedes duo. Bottas came out on top, six-hundredths of a second clear of his team-mate. Hulkenberg set a blistering lap, promoting himself to P3 on the grid! Verstappen could only manage P4. Ricciardo had a strong showing for Renault in P5 while Stroll ensured Racing Point had both cars in top 6. Alpha Tauri would be proud of another stellar lap by Gasly who would start in P7. The Frenchman was maturing well in Red Bull's B-Team. P8 was the best that Ferrari could manage with Leclerc. Albon had a mediocre outing in P9 while Norris qualified in P10 for McLaren.


Ocon got a three-place grid drop for impeding Russell in Q1 and would start the race in P14.


Mercedes seemed unbeatable this weekend as well. Red Bull held a slight advantage over their rivals with Verstappen starting the race on hard tyres. Overcutting both the Mercedes was a different matter altogether. Hulkenberg was the talk of the town with a great qualifying. The entire F1 world hoped and prayed for a trouble-free and incident-free Sunday for the German. A podium finish beckoned; if all went well! Ricciardo was Renault's best chance at a podium while Leclerc hoped for some fortune like last weekend to finish higher up on Sunday. Albon has a better showing on Sunday and looked to undo the damage of Saturday. Vettel was in the same boat as Albon. McLaren aimed for points finish for both their cars. Alpha Tauri needed a clean race from both their drivers. Williams saw improvement with each passing weekend while Haas and Alfa Romeo fell backwards despite their upgrades.


Sunday would be a memorable day!



Race :



The 70th Anniversary GP saw all 20 starters line up on the grid for the formation lap. Verstappen was the only driver to start on hard tyres in the top 10. Vettel, Sainz, Kvyat and Raikkonen also followed suit. The rest of the field were on medium tyres. The "Alternate Strategy" wasn't ideal; as shown in the F2 Feature Race on Saturday. Those on the hard tyres had a chance to prove otherwise.  


It was a clean getaway for the Mercedes duo as the lights went out. Verstappen was up into P3 with Hulkenberg having to fend off Stroll in P5. Vettel had a decent start off the line and was challenging Sainz into turn 1. However, the rear of his car got loose, sending him into a spin and relegating him to the back of the field. Leclerc held onto P10 while defending from Sainz. Giovinazzi and Magnussen were the biggest gainers ( 4 positions up ) on the opening lap. Raikkonen passed Latifi for P18 with Vettel following suit a few turns later ( lap 2 ). Vettel went past his ex-teammate on lap 4 to move up to 18th.


Bottas, Hamilton, Verstappen, Hulkenberg, Stroll, Ricciardo, Gasly, Norris, Albon and Leclerc were the top 10 at the end of lap 4.


Mercedes warned Bottas about the "critical" health of his left front medium tyre ( lap 6 ). It seemed like his race was getting compromised.  


Albon was the first to pit for what seemed to be an early stop for a two-stop strategy ( lap 7 ). He rejoined last with a fresh set of hard tyres. Red Bull made the call to pit Albon early and save him from the midfield squabbles. Gasly and Giovinazzi pitted a lap later for a set of hard tyres as well. Vettel was now up to P15 and honing in on Russell in the Williams. Russell was the next driver to pit on lap 9 for a set of hard tyres. The battle at the front was hotting up with Verstappen setting similar lap times to the Mercedes in front. Gasly made a move on Raikkonen for P14 on lap 11 while Red Bull asked Verstappen to back off and preserve the life of his tyres. Verstappen refused to relent citing a rare chance of coming out on top with his alternate strategy. He was in DRS range and heckled Hamilton for the next few laps. Meanwhile, Norris pitted from P7 ( lap 13 ) and rejoined in 13th with a fresh set of hard tyres.


Albon made a daring overtake on Raikkonen for P15 while race-leader Bottas pitted for hard tyres ( lap 14 ). The Hamilton-Verstappen battled carried on with Hamilton getting increasingly critical of the health of his rear tyres. Bottas rejoined in 6th behind Ricciardo, the Finn needing to make a few overtakes to maintain track position over a charging Verstappen. Hamilton pitted on lap 15 for hard tyres and rejoined in P6 behind Bottas and Leclerc. Ricciardo switched to another medium set, rejoining in P10.      


Hamilton was back up to pace quickly with an overtake on Leclerc for P4 while Bottas set the fastest lap of the race. Hulkenberg pitted from P2 on lap 16 and switched to a set of hard tyres rejoining in P7. Verstappen had track position and continued to extend his stint on the hard tyres. Grosjean lost P11 to Vettel ( lap 17 ) and P12 to Norris ( lap 18 ) before entering the pits for a switch to the hard tyres. He rejoined in 20th and last. Stroll and Leclerc pitted on lap 19, both switching over to hard tyres. Stroll rejoined in 6th while Leclerc was down to P12.


Magnussen sparred with Latifi for P18 and ran wide at Stowe. They banged wheels with Magnussen dangerously rejoining the track. The Stewards investigated the incident and Magnussen copped a five-second time penalty for his misdemeanour. Albon went wheel to wheel with Gasly, for P13, but the Frenchman held his ground. Leclerc tried a manoeuvre on Norris ( for P10 ) and was past him out of Luffield ( lap 20 ). Kvyat pitted for a set of hard tyres from P8. Grosjean went past his team-mate Magnussen for P19, the latter pitting for a set of hard tyres. 


Both Mercedes cars were now reporting blisters with Verstappen lapping quicker than them! The tables had turned! Red Bull Racing had the upper hand; a rare opportunity beckoned! 


It was job done for Albon with an overtake on Gasly ( for P12 ) on the outside of turn 7 ( lap 22 ). Kvyat moved past Raikkonen for P14. 


There was another flurry of pit stops on lap 23. Sainz, Ocon and Vettel dived into the pits. Sainz had a slow stop ( left rear ) and rejoined on a set of medium tyres. Vettel and Ocon had a set of hard tyres on rejoining the race. Gasly pitted a lap later, rejoining in P19 with a fresh set of hard tyres. The issue of tyre blistering worsened for the Mercedes cars, Verstappen now had time for a pit stop on Hamilton! 


Vettel had another tussle with Raikkonen, moving up to P13 ( lap 25 ). The series of pit stops continued into the following laps. Russell pitted on lap 25 for a set of hard tyres while Ricciardo pitted for hard tyres from P6 ( lap 26 ). Verstappen was also into the pits and completed a switch to mediums on lap 26. It was a slightly slower stop for the Red Bull crew, Verstappen rejoining the track a few car lengths behind Bottas in P2. Verstappen was back in the lead on lap 27 with a move on the outside at Luffield! Raikkonen and Latifi also pitted for a set of mediums and hard tyres respectively. They rejoined in P17 ( Raikkonen ) and P19 ( Latifi ). Leclerc was the fastest driver on the track now.


Vettel wasn't happy with the strategy that Ferrari put him on and made his displeasure known on the radio. The German was stuck in traffic, down in 12th behind Sainz. Meanwhile, Albon passed Norris for P7 who decided to pit immediately after for a set of hard tyres. The McLaren protege rejoined in 13th. Bottas set the fastest lap of the race while Red Bull instructed Verstappen to go aggressive on his current stint and forget tyre management. Hulkenberg and Albon pitted on lap 31 for a set of hard tyres, rejoining in P6 and P12 respectively. Ricciardo suffered a spin on lap 31 and dropped out of the points. The Australian had closed in on the Ocon-Kvyat battle and looked to have banged wheels with Sainz which sent him into a spin. Verstappen heeded to his team's advice and set the fastest lap of the race on lap 31. He was into the pits a lap later, Bottas mirroring his strategy! Hamilton was into the lead and yet to make a second stop ( if needed ). For Verstappen and Bottas it was a race to the finish. 


Vettel and Giovinazzi pitted on lap 34 for a set of medium tyres, rejoining in P14 and P19 respectively. Sainz switched to the hard tyres two laps later and rejoined the race behind Vettel. Meanwhile, at the front, Hamilton questioned his team's decision to prolong his run on the hard tyres. The team assured him that he still had some grip left on the current tyres. Albon overtook Ocon for P7 while Norris went past Ricciardo for P10. Kvyat pitted for the final time on lap 36 for medium tyres. Ricciardo had suffered flat-spots on his tyres due to his spin earlier and forced to pit for the third time. Albon, in clear air, set the fastest lap of the race. Leclerc, in P4 for Ferrari, was the only driver in the top 6 yet to make a second stop. 


Mercedes contemplated on switching Hamilton to a one-stop strategy, the reigning World Champion having track position and an eleven seconds cushion to the charging Red Bull behind him. There was action further down the field - Ricciardo went past Raikkonen for P14 while Grosjean and Russell pitted for a set of hard and medium tyres respectively. Albon was closing in on the Racing Point cars in P5 and P6. Red Bull asked Verstappen to start pushing and close the gap to Hamilton ( lap 41 ) since they believed that he would not be pitting again. However, Mercedes chose the conservative approach and pitted Hamilton for a new set of hard tyres at the end of lap 41. He rejoined in P4, 12 seconds adrift of Leclerc. He could now push till the end and possibly, salvage a win. 


Hamilton was on a charge, setting the fastest lap of the race on lap 43. Hulkenberg, in P5, reported vibrations and pitted for a fresh set of soft tyres on lap 45. He rejoined in P7, having lost positions to Stroll and Albon. Hamilton caught up to Leclerc and completed the overtake at Stowe on lap 46. Leclerc put him a good fight and probably slowed Hamilton enough to guarantee Verstappen a win. Magnussen's dismal day came to an end on lap 45, the Haas driver retiring from the race in P20. 


Verstappen had a five-second lead over Bottas who himself was three seconds clear of Hamilton. The gap between the Mercedes team-mates was reducing rapidly. Mercedes informed both their drivers that they were free to race but had to "keep it clean". Hamilton was within striking distance of Bottas and P2 on lap 50. He had a look on the outside of Vale chicane but relented. They were side by side through Aintree and Brooklands with Hamilton finally getting past his team-mate on the Wellington straight. Albon brought more joy to Red Bull with an outstanding overtake at Corpse corner on Stroll for P5. 


Verstappen was on the final lap and had a chuckle with his race engineer! It had been a challenging race for the team and driver. He took the chequered flag and his first win of 2020, comfortably clear of Hamilton and Bottas! It was a victory well deserved! 
Leclerc produced another stellar drive to come home in P4. He was one of the two drivers in the top 10 that had pitted only once during the race! Albon had another strong Sunday in P5 while Stroll and Hulkenberg could only manage P6 and P7 for Racing Point. Ocon was the other single-stopper to finish in the points. The Frenchman had to do a considerable amount of fuel-saving besides fending off a late attack by Norris. Kvyat completed the top 10. Gasly narrowly missed out on another points scoring weekend while Vettel was left wondering about Ferrari's strategy choice for him. Sainz and Ricciardo had a long afternoon in P13 and P14. Raikkonen was P15 for Alfa Romeo from Grosjean, Giovinazzi, Russell and Latifi. 


Racing Point got reprimanded for using the same brake ducts that conflicted with the sporting regulations. Renault had protested against Racing Point again but withdrew after the latter got a reprimand.


Higher track temperatures combined with softer tyres caused the undoing of the Mighty Mercedes! Red Bull showed that they never back out of a duel and are more than a handful on their day. Verstappen didn't slip up when the opportunity arose. Ferrari was kinder on its tyres and would be encouraged by Leclerc's showing. There is still light at the end of the tunnel. Albon repaid Red Bull's faith in him with a strong performance on Sunday. He needs to address his qualifying issues to be right up there with Verstappen. Racing Point had a strong weekend with another double-points finish, the podium still elusive for Hulkenberg. An uncharacteristic error by Ricciardo robbed him of a finish in the points. Ocon had to hold the position due to fuel saving at the end. It was another "what could have been" day for Renault. McLaren would like to put this challenging weekend behind them as quickly as possible. Alpha Tauri would be ruing the missed opportunity of a double-points finish. Ferrari's race strategy miffed Vettel, the spin at the start of the race adding more woes to his never-ending struggles. The German is possibly suffering neglect in his final year there. Alfa Romeo's travails continue with a lack of outright pace despite the upgrades this weekend. Raikkonen, however, did a great job with tyre management on his one-stop strategy. Haas F1 had another forgettable weekend. Williams went backwards again on a Sunday. 



It was one of the most memorable Sundays for Red Bull Motorsport. They came out victorious both on two wheels and four! 



Yuki Tsunoda, the Honda Program driver, was victorious in the F2 Sprint Race at Silverstone. Brad Binder, the rookie in Moto GP, helped Red Bull KTM Racing ( the factory team ) bag their first win in Moto GP history at the Czech GP in Brno. He sported number 33 on his bike. 


Two hours after Binder's win, Max Verstappen won the 70th Anniversary GP for Red Bull Racing F1 Team in F1! He too raced with number 33 on his car!


An iconic win on a historical day in F1! 



Red Bull Racing is the only challenger to a rampaging Mercedes in 2020 and Max Verstappen is its warrior elect.


Catalunya is next on the F1 calendar with similar weather forecasted for the race. We could see yet another Red Bull victory next weekend.

Bring on the Spanish GP!



2020 British GP Race Recap : A Tyre-ing Day at the Office!

Silverstone UK was the venue for rounds four and five of the 2020 F1 season. The teams travelled west, a fortnight after the first triple-header of the year. The teams took stock of their performances in the opening rounds and arrived in Silverstone, some with an upgraded package.

There was a buzz in the air with the 70th anniversary of the sport a week later. However, grim news hit the paddock on Thursday. Sergio Perez, Racing Point F1 driver, was isolated due to an "inconclusive" Covid-19 test. He later tested positive. The Mexican went into self-isolation as per UK quarantine guidelines and would miss the British and possibly the 70th Anniversary GP. He had flown to Mexico to visit his injured mother and believes he contracted the virus during travel. Thankfully, he was asymptomatic.

Racing Point had little time to search for a replacement. Nico Hulkenberg got chosen over Vandoorne and Gutierrez. The German was a part of the sport up until last year and had a 5-year stint with the team. He infamously holds the record for the most number of races without a podium ( in F1 ). Many hoped this would change in the extremely capable Racing Point RP20.

Hulkenberg was allowed into the paddock after a series of Covid-19 tests and a seat fit completed in the Racing Point factory which is next door.


Silverstone is a power-track which offers a fair bit of challenge to general car balance thanks to its fast, flowing corners. This track was the first test of the capabilities of each car on the 2020 F1 grid and the "home race" for Mercedes AMG Petronas, Red Bull Racing, Racing Point, McLaren, Renault, Haas F1 and Williams Racing. 

Varying track temperatures would make it a challenge for the right tyre choice come qualifying and race. The tyre selection ( by Pirelli ) were a step harder than the ones chosen for the weekend after. The engineers had their hands full for an action-packed British and 70th Anniversary GPs.


Let us have a quick recap of the British GP weekend!


Practice :

Free Practice 1 saw Verstappen top the session with Hamilton and Stroll hot on his heels. The Mercedes powered cars were on the medium tyres vs the soft for the Red Bull. Ferrari had a mixed session with Leclerc setting the 5th fastest time and Vettel unable to participate due to intercooler issues on his engine. Bottas could only manage P6 while the Renaults made it into the top 10. Hulkenberg was a commendable P9, only half a second slower than his team-mate. McLaren had a tricky start to the weekend with Sainz and Norris in 12th and 13th respectively. Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi had offtrack excursions - Raikkonen suffered from a spin in Luffield while Giovinazzi had an incident at Becketts. The Italian came off worse. The blistered hard tyre damaged the floor of his car and debris got strewn across the track. The session was red-flagged, Giovinazzi summoned to the stewards' room. Russell complained about balance issues but was able to split the Alfa Romeo cars. Latifi was the last driver to set a lap time.

Track Temperature during Free Practice 2 was 10 degrees higher than that predicted for Qualifying and the Race. Stroll was the fastest in the session from Albon and Bottas. Albon had a high-speed crash on the exit of Stowe corner, massive damage to the rear end of his car. FIA had to red flag the session briefly. Bottas was 3rd for the Mercedes works team while Charles Leclerc promoted his Ferrari to P4! Hamilton had to back off on his flying lap and finished in P5. Sainz got McLaren into the top 6. Hulkenberg improved to P7; 6 tenths of a second the deficit to his team-mate. Gasly and Ricciardo were 8th and 9th. Kimi Raikkonen got his Alfa Romeo into the top 10, encouragement for the Ferrari powered customer team. Giovinazzi was P13 in the other Alfa Romeo while Norris and Ocon finished in P11 and P12. Max Verstappen was impeded on his qualifying sim run by Grosjean and had to settle for 14th. He made his intense displeasure known on the team radio and returned the favour a lap later. He also held up Ocon's Renault in the process. Vettel's woes didn't seem to end in FP2 either with the German setting only the 18th fastest time. He was confined to his box again due to a loose pedal floor. He had work to do on Saturday due to the limited running on Friday. Haas and Williams were the slowest in FP2. Latifi suffered a spin, out of Stowe corner near the end of FP2.

Free Practice 3 got underway with conditions being overcast. An ERS Issue for Albon resigned him to the pits for the majority of the session. Vettel's FP3 program also hit a blip when his brake pedal came loose, the German visibly frustrated with these setbacks. Bottas was the fastest in FP3 from Hamilton and VerstappenA gust of wind through Maggots and Becketts compromised Hamilton's flying lap, his real pace still unknown. Mercedes had a clear advantage to the rest of the field. Less than a second separated P1 from P9 with Stroll slotting himself into P4 ahead of Sainz and Leclerc, the only Ferrari powered car in the top ten. Hulkenberg reduced the deficit to his team-mate to only two-tenths of a second and finished in P9. P13 was the best that Albon could do after having his first lap time invalidated due to exceeding track limits. Vettel ended the session in P14. Five Ferrari powered cars were in the bottom six with Haas and Alfa Romeo bringing up the rear of the field. 
Alpha Tauri changed gearboxes for both their drivers. Gasly had retired in the previous race so didn't incur a penalty. However, Kyvat got a five-place grid drop. Renault broke the curfew restrictions on Friday night, their first of the two exemptions allowed in the season to change the chassis on Ricciardo's car after it developed a hairline fracture. Giovinazzi and Hamilton switched to their second MGU-K units, no penalties incurred.


Qualifying :

Bottas was the dominant Mercedes in Q1. Hamilton and Verstappen completed the top 3. The Racing Point cars were 4th and 5th. Russell once again bumped his Williams up into Q2 with a 13th place finish. His team-mate Latifi had a big spin at Luffield in the final minutes of Q1 and brought out yellow flags. Russell set his personal best time under yellow flag conditions ( P13 as mentioned earlier ) and was investigated by the stewards after the session. Raikkonen and Giovinazzi had improved on their times but couldn't get themselves out of Q1. Alfa Romeo Racing F1 was the only team to have not entered Q2 till date, troubled times for the Swiss-based outfit. Magnussen, Grosjean and Latifi were the other casualties. Raikkonen reported his displeasure at being impeded by Ocon and the stewards decided to investigate the incident.


Q2 got underway with a varied tyre choice for drivers. Mercedes, Racing Point, Red Bull and Leclerc chose the medium tyres for their first run. The rest of the field were on softs. Bottas set a new track record whereas Hamilton made a rare mistake at Luffield and got spun around. To add insult to injury, the Stewards decided to halt the session when Hamilton was on a flying lap ( his second attempt ). The marshalls had to clear the gravel off the racing line before the resumption of the session. The seven-time World Champion had a decision to make in the interim. He chose to use his final set of Medium Tyres for his second run in Q2 with eight minutes left on the clock. He set the 2nd fastest time, the move paying off. In the final minutes of the session, Vettel and Stroll exited the pits on a fresh set of medium tyres while the rest of the field ( including the Mercedes ) chose the soft tyres. Stroll couldn't improve on his final run, neither could Vettel. Stroll was the driver under threat in P10. Gasly matched his lap time ( to the thousandth of a second ) but was classified eleventh since Stroll was the first driver to set the same lap time ( as per FIA rules ). Albon was the big casualty of Q2 with twelfth being his best effort. Hulkenberg too was a disappointment in 13th. He believed the car had more pace. Russell and Kvyat were the other eliminations. Hamilton, Bottas, Verstappen, Stroll and Leclerc would start the race on the medium set of tyres, enabling the quintet to go longer than the others ( in Q3 ) before their pitstops.


Low fuel loads, a fresh set of soft tyres and maximum engine performance are the hallmarks of every dry Q3. The final session of Qualifying got underway with some drama in the pit-lane. Stroll had to slam on his brakes after Ferrari released Leclerc in his path. Ricciardo was behind Stroll and had to do an evasive manoeuvre. Stewards decided to investigate the unsafe release. Mercedes pulled a considerable gap to the rest of the field with their banker laps. The order at the top had changed with Hamilton getting the jump on Bottas. He held onto provisional pole after the first runs and set a new track record in the process. Verstappen was the best of the rest in P3, a couple of tenths clear of Stroll and Leclerc. Vettel's lap was compromised after he put a wheel on the dirt at Chapel but managed to get provisional P6. The order would change drastically in the final run of Qualifying though. Hamilton went even faster, by three-tenths of a second, to grab pole at the British Grand Prix. Bottas pushed hard but had to settle for P2. A qualifying masterclass by the seven-time World Champion! Verstappen qualified in P3, a second down on the Mercedes duo. Leclerc produced a stellar lap to qualify in P4, a great place to start for the Ferrari driver. Norris and Stroll completed row three, Sainz and Ricciardo row four and Ocon and Vettel row five on the grid. Vettel's final lap time was invalidated as he had exceeded track limits, a dismal couple of days for the four-time world champion. 


The stewards decided to hand Russell a 5-place grid penalty for ignoring double yellow flags in Q1. Russell failed to interpret the "double-yellow" signal and wasn't instructed ( by the team ) to abort his lap ( as per the rules ). He also got three penalty points on his licence for this infringement. There was no further action on the Ocon/Raikkonen, Leclerc/Stroll and Stroll/Ricciardo incidents.

Hamilton bagged the 91st pole position of his career. It was also a day of milestones for both driver and team!

More on that here :

https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/article.qualifying-facts-and-stats-hamilton-claims-100th-front-row-start-for.3Osq6MptqI9lu9lc5Yf2WC.html


Mercedes were the class of the field on Saturday again. Verstappen was their closest challenger, albeit a second behind. McLaren and Racing Point hoped to have better race pace than the Ferraris while Albon had his work cut out for Sunday afternoon. Renault would be in the mix too. Duels in the front, midfield and at the back awaited fans on Raceday!


Race :

Hulkenberg, the replacement for Perez in Racing Point failed to make it to the grid due to engine issues on his car. Racing Point tried for a pit-lane start but to no avail. A disappointing end to a roller-coaster weekend for the German.  

Everyone ( bar Hulkenberg who didn't start ) outside the top 10 chose the medium set of tyres. Norris, Sainz, Ricciardo, Ocon and Vettel were the drivers who started the race on soft tyres.

The five red lights illuminated and a frenetic lap 1 got underway. Hamilton managed to fend off Bottas while Leclerc went wheel-to-wheel with Verstappen. The Dutchman held on to P3. Ricciardo moved up to P5 ahead of Sainz and Norris. Vettel ran wide at Corpse corner but managed to hold onto P10. Magnussen and Albon tangled at the last corner of the opening lap. Magnussen lost momentum after clipping the inside of the kerb and Albon tried a move on the inside. The left front tyre of the Red Bull hit the rear right tyre of the Haas, sending it into the barriers through the newly laid gravel.
The FIA immediately deployed the Safety car as well as the Medical car. Thankfully Magnussen was safe. The stewards initiated an investigation.

Racing resumed on lap 6 with Hamilton having a great restart. Ocon tried a move on Stroll but couldn't pull it off.  Albon pitted on lap 7 for hard tyres after reporting vibrations on the mediums that he had started the race on. He didn't suffer any suspension damage from the incident, a relief for the team. Vettel was stuck in P10 when DRS got enabled on lap 8. The Mercedes drivers were pulling away from Verstappen who was himself building a gap to Leclerc in 4th. Kvyat overtook Giovinazzi for P12 on lap 11 but had a massive crash at Maggotts a lap later. The car was a wreck after the High-G crash and brought out another Safety Car. The team suggested it was a right rear puncture to blame for the crash, not the driver. 

The Safety Car period caused a flurry of pit stops with everyone switching to the hard tyres. The front runners ( top 6 ) followed suit a lap later. Grosjean opted to not pit and got elevated to P5 at the expense of Sainz, Ricciardo, Norris and Stroll. Stroll was having a tough day at the office, the Racing Point car unable to live up to its true potential. Raikkonen also lost track position due to a poor double-stack by Alfa Romeo. The top 4 remain unchanged. The safety car period came at an ideal time for those on the soft tyres. It was a no stop race to the end now.

A prolonged period of seven laps under the safety car ended on lap 19 after a safe extrication of the stricken Alpha Tauri of Kvyat. Hamilton had a great restart again. Bottas doing likewise with Verstappen and Leclerc. There was action further down the field though. Sainz defended from Ricciardo who got bogged down and lost a place to Norris, the McLaren protege pulling off an amazing overtake on the outside of the corner. Norris then went wheel-to-wheel with Sainz but had to relent after running wide at Corpse. Further down, Ocon and Raikkonen overtook Vettel and Russell for P10 and P15 respectively. The stewards decided to punish Albon with a five-second time penalty for the incident ( on lap 1 ) which he served on his second stop.
 
Hamilton and Bottas were trading fastest laps in the front and pulling away from the rest of the field. Grosjean moved under braking while defending his position from Sainz. The Spaniard made his displeasure known over the team radio but got the move done on lap 22. Norris followed suit a lap later. Grosjean got warned with a Black & White Flag for unsporting behaviour on track, the stewards having studied his incident with Sainz. Stroll put a wheel on the dirt out of Becketts and was vulnerable to an overtake on the Hangar straight, Ocon unable to pounce at the opportunity. Raikkonen lost P15 to Russell on lap 28, a torrid time for the Iceman in the underperforming Alfa Romeo. Albon was slowly moving up the field and had Gasly in his sights. Gasly overtook Giovinazzi ( on lap 31 ) for P12 while Albon decided to pit instead of sparring with the duo in front. He served his time penalty, put on a new set of medium tyres and rejoined in seventeenth and last. Giovinazzi came under scrutiny a lap later over a Safety Car infringement. Raikkonen lost another place to Latifi on lap 33. Giovinazzi got punished with a five-second time penalty by the stewards and Ricciardo made a successful move on Grosjean for P7 ( lap 36 ). Grosjean had adopted dodgy tactics to defend his position again. The incident got flagged for investigation post-race.

Grosjean got overtaken by Stroll before he pitted for a set of hard tyres on lap 37, got stuck in the box, rejoining in 17th and last. Hamilton had retaken the fastest lap crown in the interim. Gasly passed Vettel for P10 on lap 38, the German's day going from bad to worse! 

Hamilton, Bottas, Verstappen, Leclerc, Sainz, Norris, Ricciardo, Stroll, Ocon and Gasly were the top 10 on lap 39.

Albon resumed his charge up the field by passing Raikkonen and Latifi on laps 40 and 42 respectively. Verstappen held the point for the fastest lap after it changed hands between Hamilton, Albon and him. There was excessive tyre wear on both Mercedes cars. Bottas reported vibrations and decided to conserve his tyres till the end. The gap to Hamilton started increasing steadily. Raikkonen was relegated to P17 and last when Grosjean overtook him on lap 45. Albon closed in on the duo of Giovinazzi and Russell in the battle for P12 and passed them on lap 46. Vettel in the Ferrari was next, seven seconds adrift. Stroll moved under braking while defending from Ocon on the Hangar Straight and got served a Black & White Flag for unsporting behaviour. It was job done for Ocon on lap 47 who was up to P8. Albon was taking chunks out of his deficit to Vettel and set the fastest lap of the race. 

Hamilton's lead to Bottas now extended to 6.5 seconds while Verstappen reduced his deficit to less than 9 seconds. McLarens were also reporting issues of blistering and Norris was coming under pressure from Ricciardo. Raikkonen's miseries didn't seem to end when he suffered a front wing failure and a left front puncture on lap 48. He limped to the pits and rejoined after a fresh set of tyres and front-wing swap. Gasly overtook Stroll for P9 on lap 49 and Albon was honing in on Vettel for P11. 

No scriptwriter could have imagined the drama that unfolded in the last three laps of the race. Bottas suffered delamination on the left front tyre going wide at turn 1. Verstappen was up into P2! There was more action further down the field with Albon overtaking Vettel for P11 and Ricciardo going past Norris for P6.  Bottas had already begun his lap when the tyre mishap occurred and would have to tip-toe around the entire length of the circuit, losing a lot of time to those behind him. He pitted on the penultimate lap, got a set of soft tyres in a 6.5 second stop and rejoined in P12 behind Vettel. Disaster for the Finn! 

Verstappen also pitted for a fresh set of tyres, Red Bull aiming to bag the point for the fastest lap. It was a guaranteed P2 for Verstappen who had a comfortable buffer to LeclercMercedes had the option of pitting Hamilton to mitigate the chances of tyre delamination. They chose otherwise. Hamilton had a thirty-six seconds cushion after Verstappen's pit-stop and instructed to exercise extreme caution with his tyres.

Albon's recovery drive continued with an overtake on Stroll for P9 on the final lap. There was more drama further up the field. Sainz was next on the list of casualties from tyre delaminations. The Spaniard's left front tyre gave up the ghost, losing P4 to Ricciardo. He pitted and rejoined in P16 and out of the points. 

Lewis Hamilton, the Race Leader, was halfway through the final lap when he too suffered delamination on his tyre! Mercedes had made a tactical error by not pitting him when they had the chance. It was a nerve-wracking time for the six-time World Champion. There were continuous changes to the settings ( on his dash display ) to manage a car that was limping around on three wheels. Verstappen was informed about Hamilton's predicament and kept pushing till the end. The gap reduced drastically but Hamilton limped over the finish line, less than 6 seconds clear of a late-charging Verstappen. Leclerc came home in 3rd after putting in another flawless drive. Ricciardo equalled his best finish in Renault with P4, Norris was P5 for Mclaren and Ocon P6 for Renault. Gasly, Albon, Stroll and Vettel completed the top 10. Bottas put Vettel under intense pressure but couldn't pull the move off at the end. A dismal end to such a promising weekend for the Finn. Giovinazzi was P12, another good drive put in by the Italian for Alfa Romeo. Russell, Latifi, Sainz, Grosjean and Raikkonen were the rest of the finishers. 

Some experts believed that Red Bull blew the chance of victory by pitting Verstappen on the penultimate lap. However, Team Principal Christian Horner refuted the claims by saying that Verstappen had cuts on his tyres and would have suffered the same fate as the Mercedes duo had he not pitted. Mercedes had a bitter-sweet day and rued the missed opportunity of another 1-2. Hamilton and Mercedes seem unbeatable even under duress. Ferrari is having a challenging 2020 but will be encouraged by a strong showing on Sunday. Alan Permane, Renault's Track Operations Director, completed a milestone of 500 race weekends on Sunday. P4 and P6 by his drivers is quite a tribute for his dedication to the team's cause. McLaren also had a mixed day at the office with Norris getting P5 and Sainz being denied a points-finish at the end. Gasly put in another strong weekend for Alpha Tauri in P7. Albon once again proved his skill to fight on a Sunday. Stroll and Racing Point had a forgettable British GP and will look to bounce back the next weekend. Hulkenberg seems destined for another round of racing next weekend with Perez restricted to the confines of his room. Vettel was frustrated after a trouble-ridden weekend but will have a second shot at it. Williams is improving with each passing weekend while Haas F1 and Alfa Romeo seem lost at sea. 

Grosjean got a formal warning from the stewards for his unsporting defensive manoeuvres in the race.  

Pirelli promised a thorough investigation of the tyre delaminations at the end of the race. Their findings will be critical since the dry tyre compounds chosen are a level softer with higher track temperatures forecasted for the 70th Anniversary GP. 


The 70th Anniversary of F1 is nigh. The teams will return to Silverstone this weekend for a second bout. A special event awaits one and all. 

2020 Hungarian GP Race Recap : The King of the Ring Hungry for More!

The 2020 F1 season got underway with two back-to-back races at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria. Mercedes reigned supreme over the two race weekends. The sport then made its way east, to the city of Budapest, home to Hungaroring, venue for the Hungarian GP which completed the first triple-header of the season.

Hungaroring, a high downforce, street-like circuit, has seen some memorable races in the past. This was one race that could close the gap between Mercedes and the chasing pack. Lewis Hamilton, a 7-time winner here, also called "the King of the Ring" hoped to reduce the 6 points deficit to the Championship Leader and his teammate Valtteri Bottas. 

The Racing Point cars still ran the "controversial" brake ducts that Renault had protested against while Ferrari hoped for a better outing after the fiasco in the previous race. 


Were Red Bull and Racing Point able to upset the mighty Mercs? Was Lewis able to become an 8-time race winner at Hungaroring and take the lead of the Championship or did Bottas have a say? Did Ferrari & Renault show signs of resurgence? Was McLaren able to maintain the momentum they had from the season openers? 

All shall be revealed in this race recap! 


Practice :

Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas were the fastest in Free Practice 1. Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll were the only drivers within one second of their times. Renault got themselves up into the top 10 with Ricciardo in P6 and Ocon in P10 while Vettel and Leclerc set the 6th and the 7th fastest times respectively. It was a mixed session for Red Bull with Alex Albon down in P13 and Verstappen in P8. Both the cars struggled with balance issues and traffic on track. McLaren was in a similar situation with Norris in P9 and Sainz in P11. The Haas cars were P12 and P14  while Latifi outpaced his more experienced team-mate, George Russell to finish P15. Gasly didn't take part due to sensor issues on his car while Kubica replaced Raikkonen for this session. Williams was now on par with Alpha Tauri and Alfa Romeo.

Free Practice 2 was hit with inclement weather and few chose to drive in the wet. Gasly and Raikkonen used this session for acclimatization. Sebastian Vettel topped the timesheets for Ferrari with Bottas hot on his heels. Charles Leclerc, in the other Ferrari, could only manage the 10th fastest time while Carlos Sainz Jr. went P3 for McLaren. The Racing Point cars were in the top 6 again. Drivers experimented with intermediate sets but struggled due to poor track conditions. Many ran wide due to lack of grip and the session finished with thirteen setting times, the Renault and Williams duo, Albon, Magnussen and Hamilton unable to do so. 

Free Practice 3 was a rain threatened session. The session was split into race and qualifying simulations by the teams. Bottas was fastest from Hamilton, Perez, Leclerc and Stroll who completed the top 5. Red Bull struggled with balance issues while Williams had a great run with Russell in P14. Racing Point seemed to be the real challenger going into qualifying. Ferrari was encouraged by their performance in the final practice session. Gasly reported engine trouble on his Alpha Tauri, warning signs for Honda. Haas and Alfa Romeo were the slowest of the lot, their chances for the weekend bleak. 



Qualifying :

Q1 got underway with a flurry of cars coming out of the pits as the rain clouds closed in. Soft tyres were the choice for all as a slight drizzle hit the track. Latifi, Raikkonen, Grosjean, Magnussen and Giovinazzi were in the elimination zone after the first run. Giovinazzi's lap-time was deleted for exceeding track limits at turn 4. The bottom 5 kept running through Q1 in their attempt to better their times. Track conditions improved as the clock ran down and the likes of Albon, Ocon, Gasly were under threat. Russell and Latifi jumped into the top 10! Meanwhile, Perez set the fastest time of Q1! Everyone drove out on a fresh set of soft tyres with less than 2 minutes on the clock. Verstappen was at risk in the final moments of Q1. The Dutchman improved to P8 while those in the drop zones failed to do better than the 15th placed Latifi. Magnussen, Kvyat, Grosjean, Giovinazzi and Raikkonen eliminated from Q1. It was a forgettable day for Alfa Romeo and Haas once again. Williams had both cars in Q2 after a gap of 4 years! Claire Williams was elated. The Racing Point cars were the fastest of the session with Hamilton hot on their heels. Sainz was under investigation for impeding Giovinazzi. Verstappen and Gasly complained about engine issues.

The lights went green for Q2 and Mercedes, Racing Point and Renault drivers chose the medium set of tyres for their first timed laps. Gasly was the last one to set a banker lap on a set of soft tyres. Leclerc, Russell, Albon, Ocon and Latifi were in the drop zone with 8 minutes left on the clock. Red Bull suspected damage on the front wing of Albon's car while Gasly's engine woes continued. Gasly was informed by the team that the issue couldn't be fixed in-session, much to his chagrin. Racing Point had a tense time with Stroll, who got called to the weigh-bridge for a random check. They had to wheel him into the garage to refuel and replace his tyres with less than 4 minutes left. Gasly gave up on his final attempt in Q2 due to an engine failure. The Frenchman would get a new engine for the race on Sunday. Racing Point again chose the medium set of tyres for their final run in Q2, a bold decision indeed! Everyone else was on the soft tyres. Albon made a couple of errors on his flying lap and couldn't better his time. He eventually qualified 13th behind Russell in the Williams! A bad day at the office for the Thai sensation. Ricciardo, Russell, Albon, Ocon and Latifi were the drivers eliminated. Gasly scraped through in 10th but wouldn't take further part due to the issue. Ferrari was relieved to have both cars in Q3 for the first time this year.  Advantage Mercedes and Racing Point - the quartet would start the race on the medium set of tyres ( from Q2 )!


Mercedes were a class apart in Q3 as they dialled up their engines. Lewis Hamilton set a new track record on his first run with Bottas three tenths behind. Perez exceeded track limits, his lap time deleted. Stroll was provisional P3 from Verstappen, Norris, Sainz, Vettel and Leclerc. The Ferraris were the first ones out to complete their final run (with 5 minutes left). Stroll followed shortly after. The trio improved and Ferraris locked out the third row on the grid, Stroll P3Perez, on his legitimate run, set the 4th fastest time; Racing Point 3rd and 4th! Hamilton went faster on his final run, beating his lap record set a few minutes earlier, a tenth clear of his team-mate Bottas in P2. Verstappen, Norris and Sainz couldn't improve on their final runs and would start 7th, 8th and 9th respectively. Another day of dominance for the Mercedes powered cars! The works team was in a league of its own with their favourite customer, best of the rest! Ferrari was the 3rd fastest team on the grid ( in qualifying at least ) while Red Bull had work to do overnight, sorting out balance and engine issues. There was the possibility of rain on race day as well, an exciting prospect on Sunday!



Race :

The heavens opened on Sunday. It would be a wet start to the race. There was drama before the race even began! A skid at turn 12 ( on his exploration lap ) sent Verstappen into the barriers damaging his front wing and possibly, the front suspension. The Red Bull mechanics wheeled him into his grid slot and began a thorough inspection. Others ran back and forth to gather tools and spares for the car. The front wing and the steering rod were some of the components replaced. The mechanics completed a 90-minute job in 15, kudos! 
Their troubles were compounded when the FIA initiated an investigation on the other car. The mechanics had allegedly used leaf blowers to dry the grid slot of Albon's carFIA F1 Technical Delegate Jo Bauer was witness to the act. The verdict would be given post-race. 

The formation lap got underway and barring Magnussen ( who was on wets ) everyone chose intermediate tyres. 
Haas F1 decided to pit both their drivers ( for slicks ) at the end of the formation lap. They believed the track was ready for dry tyres.
The others lined up for the race start.

It was a poor start for Bottas. He seemed to have jumped the lights, stopping momentarily before using the launch control again. Fortunately, ( for him ) the sensor didn't report this infringement. 
Hamilton led into turn 1 from Stroll. Verstappen went wheel-to-wheel with Vettel for P3 and got the position. Vettel and Leclerc were 4th and 5th, Bottas down to 6th! Perez, Sainz, Ricciardo and Latifi completed the top 10 at the end of lap 1. 
Norris had a bad start and was down in P14. Raikkonen was P15 but got served a 5 second time penalty for being in the wrong grid slot for the race start.

Kvyat pitted on lap 1 for a set of mediums. Bottas and Leclerc pitted on lap 3 for medium and soft tyres respectively. Albon overtook Latifi for P8 while Verstappen pressurized Stroll for P2. A slew of cars entered the pits ( on laps 4 and 5 ) for a switch to dry tyres. Vettel lost a lot of time in this melee. Sainz tangled with Latifi when his front wing clipped his left rear tyre at the pit exit. Latifi got spun around and suffered a puncture. It was an unsafe release by Williams and Latifi was awarded a time penalty of 5 seconds ( on lap 10 ). Magnussen and Grosjean jumped to P3 and P4 after the first round of pit stops! Leclerc, Kvyat, Gasly, Russell and Giovinazzi had chosen the soft tyres while the rest of the field the mediums. 

Perez ran wide and lost 2 positions to Vettel and Albon on lap 5. Verstappen set the fastest time on lap 6. DRS got enabled a lap later and Stroll overtook Grosjean for P4.  Bottas sparred with Leclerc ( lap 8 ) but was forced onto the wet section, his challenge fizzling out. Hamilton reclaimed the fastest lap from Verstappen. Bottas returned for round 2 and completed a clean pass on Leclerc on lap 10. He then overtook Grosjean on lap 12 for P5. Vettel made an error and ceded a place to Albon and Stroll pressurized Magnussen for P3. Hamilton extended his lead at the front. 

There was a prediction of a light shower on the radar. 
Albon started pressurizing Leclerc who was losing performance on the soft tyres. He attempted a couple of overtakes but was unsuccessful. This allowed Vettel to close in on the sparring duo. Meanwhile, Raikkonen passed Gasly for P14. Gasly limped into the pits on lap 16 and into retirement, his car emitting smoke. Stroll caught up to Magnussen and passed him on lap 16. Down the order, the battle for P7 raged on with Vettel joining the fray as well! Bottas demoted Magnussen to P5 on lap 17. Perez, Ricciardo and Sainz joined Albon & Vettel behind Leclerc. Albon was getting frustrated and requested for more engine power. It was job done on lap 18, the Haas duo up next. Vettel had to clear Leclerc who was struggling to prolong his stint.
Thankfully, Ferrari didn't stall his progress and the German overtook his team-mate with DRS on lap 19. Kvyat pitted for a set of hard tyres. Leclerc, now under pressure from Perez, defended his position and pitted on lap 21 for a new set of hard tyres. He rejoined in P15. Perez had clear air and started pulling away from Ricciardo and Sainz. Giovinazzi pitted for a set of medium tyres on lap 22. Light rain was predicted in 10 minutes. Hamilton was pushing and lapping backmarkers pretty quickly. Leclerc was one of them on lap 24.

Bottas was closing in on Stroll, Leclerc likewise with Norris. Sainz too maintained pressure on Ricciardo. Drivers complained about tyre wear and loss of grip but chose to continue ( with the threat of rain in the air ). Lap 29 saw two great battles unfold - Bottas vs Stroll and Leclerc vs Norris. Leclerc was wheel-to-wheel with Norris but unable to complete the move on the outside of turn 3. Albon overtook Grosjean on lap 30, the Frenchman coming under intense pressure from Vettel. Vettel, however, pitted at the end of the lap for a set of hard tyres and avoided the loss of time behind slower cars. He rejoined in P12, Raikkonen up to P11! 

Perez demoted Grosjean to P8 on lap 31 and Leclerc was having a titanic battle with Norris. The McLaren protege was immovable. Leclerc finally passed him on the next lap. Meanwhile, Vettel set the fastest lap of the race and Ricciardo made a move on Grosjean for P8.
There was a slew of pitstops again. Bottas pitted on lap 34 for another set of medium tyres and Raikkonen pitted from P12 for a set of hard tyres and rejoined in 17th. Albon pitted on lap 36 ( from 6th ) for hard tyres and rejoined in 10th. Stroll pitted for a set of medium tyres but lost third place to Bottas. Bottas' undercut strategy paid off. Verstappen and Hamilton pitted as well
( on laps 37 & 38 respectively ). Status quo maintained. 

Magnussen couldn't defend against Perez for P9 ( lap 40 ) and was falling into the hands of Leclerc. A switch to the hard tyres for Sainz on lap 41 put him out of the points scoring positions in P11. Yellow flags were deployed when Latifi had an offtrack excursion. He made it back to the pits and put on another set of fresh tyres.

The Haas cars were going backwards - Ricciardo overtook Magnussen ( lap 47 ) after his final pit stop while Grosjean lost two positions to Ocon and Norris in the space of two laps. Bottas switched to the hard tyres with another pit stop on lap 50, in the hope of "under-cutting" Verstappen. The Red Bull driver chose to continue on his worn set. Bottas had to reduce the 23-second deficit in the space of 20 laps for a P2 finish. There was another battle brewing, this time between would-be teammates, Leclerc and Sainz.
Bottas went about chasing Verstappen with a series of fastest laps and steadily reducing the gap. Stroll, meanwhile, pitted for a fresh set of boots on lap 53. Albon and Vettel were the next cars to be lapped by the leader Hamilton, only the top 4 remaining on the lead lap! 

Hamilton, Verstappen, Bottas, Stroll, Vettel, Albon, Perez, Ricciardo, Magnussen, Leclerc were the top 10 at the end of lap 58.
The battle for the final point intensified with Sainz challenging Leclerc on lap 60. The Ferrari driver held firm. He couldn't defend on the next lap though and ceded his place to the Spaniard. Mercedes asked Hamilton to pit on lap 63 but aborted it, the life of the soft tyres still being debated on the pit wall. He eventually did pit on lap 67 for a fresh set of soft tyres. Albon snatched back P5 from Vettel on the same lap. Bottas held onto the fastest lap with 3 laps remaining. He was within 2 seconds of Verstappen and catching him at a rate of knots. Hamilton reclaimed the point for the fastest lap ( on the penultimate and last laps )!
All eyes were on the battle for P2. Bottas was in DRS range of Verstappen on the final lap. Unfortunately, he was a lap too late.


Hamilton won the Hungarian GP for the 8th time! Verstappen had his Red Bull Mechanics to thank for his second place. Bottas came home in third. Stroll was P4, Albon P5 followed by Vettel, Perez, Ricciardo, Magnussen and Sainz
Leclerc, Kvyat, Ocon, Norris, Grosjean, Raikkonen, Giovinazzi, Russell and Latifi failed to finish in the points. Gasly was the sole retirement.

Post-race, the Haas F1 team got summoned for alleged breach of regulations on the formation lap with regards to driver aids. Both drivers were served a 10 second time penalty. The team made the call to pit ( not the drivers ), hence the penalty.
Grosjean was relegated to P16 and Magnussen to P10. Sainz & Raikkonen promoted to P9 & P15 respectively. 

Red Bull Racing and Albon weren't penalized for their alleged breach on the grid. The Stewards reviewed the video evidence and concluded that the team didn't attempt to alter the grip of the track surface.


Hamilton was a class apart this weekend. He had lapped every car up to P5, truly a drubbing. Bottas has relinquished his lead in the championship. Red Bull had a tough weekend but was able to salvage a P2 and a P5. Racing Point had another strong weekend. Vettel made the right calls and scored good points. His team-mate had another disappointing weekend, a poor strategy call to blame. McLaren hit a low after the highs of the opening races. Renault would be glad to see both cars finish a race and aim to score points with both cars. Williams did great on Saturday but faltered on Sunday. Alfa Romeo struggled on both days! It is disheartening to see a team struggle on tracks where they scored points a year earlier. Alpha Tauri would like to forget this weekend as quickly as possible.  

Silverstone, another power track, is next on the calendar. The next triple-header is less than a fortnight away, so teams need to address issues to recover lost ground. Mercedes might still have the upper hand. Time will tell.



Hamilton, the King of the Ring, won at Hungaroring for the 8th time! More records beckon, the hunger never dies!!

2020 Styrian GP Race Recap : Deutsch Dominance in the Styrian Countryside

The 2020 F1 season got underway at the Red Bull Ring with the Austrian GP! Valtteri Bottas and Mercedes AMG F1 won the opening round. Charles Leclerc produced a stellar drive to finish P2 with Lando Norris bagging the first podium of his F1 career.

These 3 constructors ( Mercedes, Ferrari & McLaren ) shared the podium for the first time in the history of the sport!

The week that followed served up more surprises. Fernando Alonso announced his return to F1 with Renault Sport F1 Team for 2021 and 2022. 

The race calendar now included Mugello and Sochi as the latest entrants. The circuit in Mugello makes a return to the sport and will be the venue for the 1000th GP of the Scuderia Ferrari F1 Team.

The contenders returned to the same venue, a weekend later, to take part in round 2, now known as the Styrian GP! The race was named after the region of Styria where the circuit is located. It wasn't the first time a race would be named after a region. Pescara in Italy hosted the Pescara GP in 1957. This would be the first venue, however, to host back-to-back races in the same year!


Ferrari rushed in a couple of aero upgrades for Round 2. Lewis Hamilton hoped for a clean weekend while Honda claimed their engine issues were addressed ( due to an electrical fault ) and Red Bull would have a more reliable car for the weekend.


How did the teams fare on the weekend? Did we have a new winner? Time for a recap!



Practice :

Friday Practice saw Racing Point dominate FP1 with Max Verstappen and the Mercedes duo hot on their heels. Ferrari powered cars continued to struggle with 10th being their highest finish. Nicolas Latifi retired from the session with a broken gearbox. Jack Aitken and Robert Kubica, reserve drivers for Williams and Alfa Romeo respectively, finished P17 and P18. Haas' woes continued - Romain Grosjean suffered braking issues while Kevin Magnussen completed only 3 laps before the team called him to investigate what seemed to be a faulty battery. Lando Norris got penalised with a 3 place grid drop for overtaking under Yellow Flags during FP1.

The weather prediction for Saturday was heavy rains with the threat of both FP3 and Qualifying being called off. If conditions didn't improve by Sunday morning ( alternate timeslot for Qualifying ), the FIA would be forced to refer to the FP2 results for forming the grid for the race. 

FP2 commenced on a disastrous note for Daniel Ricciardo. The Australian lost control of his car into turn 9, careering into the barriers, the car wrecked. He was pretty winded after the impact and seen limping. Thankfully, precautionary checks at the medical centre deemed him fit for the rest of the weekend.

A lot of teams chose to throw caution to the wind, using up more than one fresh set of soft tyres to set banker laps. Some, like Mercedes, went the conservative way and ran their race program after a few flying laps. 

The result? Max Verstappen was top of the pile with Bottas and the Racing Point cars a close 3rd and 4th. Hamilton ended the session in 6th while the Ferraris languished in 9th and 16th, Vettel reporting issues with the front end throughout FP2. McLaren was in the mix with Sainz in 5th and Norris in 8th. Albon finished in P7 but it wasn't a clean session for him ( spin and an off-track excursion ). The Williams got the jump on Haas, an encouraging sign for them!

Saturday arrived and the heavens opened. The Formula 3 Race had to be Red Flagged and after a lot of deliberation, Free Practice 3 stood cancelled

The possibility of a postponement of Qualifying to Sunday Morning seemed real...



Qualifying :

The start of Qualifying was delayed due to the onset of another shower and poor track conditions. 

Q1 finally got underway, 50 minutes later, with everyone making a beeline for the pit exit. The teams didn't want to be caught out if the conditions worsened. Everyone was fueled to till the end of the session. Lap times started improving slowly as the water was displaced off the racing line by the train of cars. Williams rolled the dice by sending Russell on a new set of wet tyres in the final minutes. He improved to P12.  Less than a minute left on the clock and the Alfa Romeo of Giovinazzi spun, going backwards into the barriers, bringing out yellow flags and eventually red-flagging the session ( when it ground to a halt ). The runners behind the Alfa Romeo had to slow down and couldn't improve their lap times. Sergio Perez was the big casualty of Q1. Kimi Raikkonen was the other. Both were on personal best laps when the session was red-flagged. Latifi, Giovinazzi & Grosjean were the other eliminations of Q1. Grosjean was unable to set a lap time with an ERS issue. Giovinazzi was handed a 5 place grid penalty for a gearbox change while Haas came under investigation for working on Grosjean's car in parc-ferme conditions.  

Q2 began under slightly better conditions. Hamilton traded fastest laps with Verstappen initially but the conditions soon deteriorated as the rain intensified. Ferrari was once again struggling to stay in touch with the front runners with Charles Leclerc outside the top 10 and Vettel the driver at risk of elimination. The Monegasque driver couldn't better his time and eventually finished the session in P11. Leclerc's woes didn't end there as he was under investigation for impeding Kvyat on his flying lap in Q2. He was awarded a 3 place grid drop for this infringement and would start the race in 14th! Russell, Stroll, Kvyat and Magnussen were the other casualties, mistakes for Stroll and Magnussen costing them dearly. Racing Point hoped to turn things around come race-day.   

Track conditions were similar to that of Q1 ( at the start of Q3 ) and the cars tiptoed around the track for the first couple of minutes. Lap times were set and the Mercedes duo seemed to have an upper hand in the fight for the front row. The lap times started dropping in the final three minutes of the session. Verstappen jumped to Provisional Pole while Gasly improved to P4. Lewis Hamilton had different plans. The 6 times World Champion set purple sectors and snatched back provisional pole, this time with a margin of seven-tenths of a second. Ocon demoted Bottas to P4 before Sainz claimed P3 from OconMax Verstappen pushed hard on his final attempt displaying razor-sharp reflexes whenever the car tried to misbehave. It was neck and neck into the last couple of corners when a distraction caused by the Ferrari of Vettel pulling into the pits upset his focus. He lost the rear end of his car into the final turn and the challenge was over. It wasn't over for the Mercedes duo...yet... Bottas pushed hard but could only manage P4. Lewis flexed his muscles and went even faster. He would eventually finish on pole with a buffer of 1.2 seconds to Max Verstappen and 1.6 to his team-mate ( who was in 4th ). It was a driving masterclass in atrocious conditions! 

Carlos Sainz Jr qualified P3. Bottas, Ocon, Norris, Albon, Gasly, Ricciardo & Vettel completed the top 10.

Come rain, come sunshine, Mercedes was still the team to beat. Red Bull and McLaren had a great base to fight them on Sunday. Once again there was only one Ferrari powered car in the top 10 and the works team needed to produce a foolproof strategy ( with a fair bit of luck ) if they were to replicate their performance from the previous week. The Racing Points weren't able to display their true pace either. The race on Sunday promised to be an exciting affair!



Race :

The Regional Anthem of Styria was played before the drivers took a stand ( or knee ) against racism. 19 cars lined up on the grid as Grosjean opted to start from the pit lane. The sun was shining in all its glory and the track was bone dry! It was time to go racing!

Everyone had a free choice of tyres ( due to a wet qualifying ). Ricciardo, Vettel, Kvyat, Raikkonen, Latifi and Giovinazzi opted to start on the medium set of tyres while the rest of the field chose the softs.  

The 5 red lights went out and Hamilton was quick off the blocks. Sainz tried to scrap it out with Verstappen but the latter held firm. The train of cars reached turn 3 and Leclerc tried to make a move on Vettel, went over the kerb, the rear of his car lifted into the air and tangled with the rear wing of Vettel's Ferrari. The latter limped to the pits with a dangling rear wing. His race was over and the Safety Car was deployed. Kimi Raikkonen had a front-row seat of the incident and had to slam his brakes to avoid contact with the sparring Ferraris in front. His car went into anti-stall relegating him to the back of the pack. Vettel retired from the race. Leclerc pitted as well for a front wing change and a switch to an alternate strategy (a new set of hard tyres ). Stewards investigated the incident and deemed it as "No Action Necessary".

Racing resumed on lap 4 and once again Hamilton had a clean getaway. Leclerc's car was undrivable due to massive underside damage and he retired from the race on lap 5. Perez had a mega start and was already in P11 by the end of lap 7. Bottas overtook Sainz for P3 while Albon closed in on the McLaren. An off-track excursion for Russell demoted him to 18th and last. Albon overtook Sainz for P4 ( lap 8 ). Raikkonen passed Latifi for P17 while Stroll bickered with Norris over P9 on lap 10. The Canadian was on the move having started 13th on the grid. He was able to make the overtake a lap later. His team-mate Perez then made his entry into the points scoring position on lap 14 with Norris going backwards in a tough phase of the race. 

Daniel Ricciardo was closing in on his team-mate Ocon for P6. Renault had opted for different strategies and it seemed that Ocon was losing performance on his soft tyres. Things got quite nervy on lap 17 when Ricciardo tried to make a move on the outside at turn 4. Ocon held forte. Ricciardo didn't mince his words over the team radio and wanted to chase down Sainz ( in P5 ) if the team instructed Ocon to let him by. Stroll made it past Gasly on the same lap and was closing in on this duo rapidly. A lap later the Renault team-mates went wheel-to-wheel again while Gasly lost another spot, this time to Sergio Perez
Ricciardo finally made it past Ocon ( lap 19 ).

Mercedes instructed both their drivers to push and Hamilton responded with the fastest laps of the race on laps 20 & 21. It went from bad to worse for Gasly who lost another place to Norris ( on lap 22 ). The Alpha Tauri was rapidly losing performance on the soft tyres. Meanwhile, Leclerc and Vettel exchanged words in the paddock and the former apologised for his mistake at the start of the race. 

Bottas was now closing in on Verstappen. There was a lot of action at the back of the field as well. Raikkonen was now in P14, having passed Magnussen. Giovinazzi, his team-mate, was the next car up ahead.  

Red Bull decided to undercut the Mercedes and pitted Verstappen for a fresh set of medium tyres on lap 25. Game on! Ocon retired from the race on lap 26 with a suspected cooling issue. Hamilton was now 25 seconds clear of Verstappen.


Hamilton, Bottas, Verstappen, Albon, Sainz, Ricciardo, Stroll, Perez, Norris and Kvyat were the top 10 on lap 27. Hamilton dived into the pits at the end of lap 27, switched to a fresh set of medium tyres and exited the pits with a comfortable lead over a charging Verstappen. The Dutchman was unhappy and questioned the team's attempt of an undercut.

Bottas took over the lead of the race and decided to go longer on his first stint. Gasly pitted on lap 29 for a set of hard tyres, the Frenchman rejoining in 17th and last. Lewis Hamilton wasted no time in setting the fastest lap time ( of the race ) on his fresh set of medium tyres, pulling away from Max Verstappen and reducing the deficit to his team-mate in front. Meanwhile, Sergio Perez put immense pressure on his team-mate for P7. Racing Point had a decision to make. 

Carlos Sainz pitted from P5 on lap 33 but a sticky left-rear wheel delayed the Spaniard. A stationary stop of 7.2 seconds caused him to get stuck behind a train of cars that were yet to pit. Bottas finally pitted on lap 34 for a fresh set of medium tyres and rejoined in 3rd behind Lewis Hamilton & Max Verstappen. The Finn would now have to make an overtake on-track to claim P2. 
Racing Point also pitted Lance Stroll on the same lap ( lap 34 ). This cleared the road for Sergio Perez in his quest to reduce the gap to Ricciardo. The Alfa Romeo cars were now into points-scoring positions. 

Albon pitted from P4 on lap 36 and rejoined in 7th behind Lando Norris. Stroll and Sainz were now hunting down the cars yet to make a stop. Stroll overtook Raikkonen on lap 36 and did the same with Giovinazzi a lap later. Sainz followed suit with overtakes on laps 38 and 39. Perez pitted on lap 39 ( from P5 ) and rejoined the track just in front of Sainz. The Spaniard was unwilling to yield and went wheel to wheel with Perez. He had track-position out of turn 4 but Perez got a great slipstream and went around the outside of turn 5 to retake P8! What an outstanding manoeuvre!

Norris and Giovinazzi pitted on lap 40 for a fresh set of tyres while Bottas set the fastest lap of the race, reducing the deficit to Verstappen. Haas F1 drivers were having a torrid time and still suffering from braking issues. Raikkonen pitted for a fresh set of soft tyres on lap 45 while Perez closed in on his team-mate ( again ) for P6. He was side by side with DRS Assistance out of turn 4 and had the inside line into turn 5. Another brilliant move and great wheel-to-wheel racing! 

Perez had Daniel Ricciardo in his sights, the latter struggling on the soft tyres. The front-runners were now lapping the backmarkers and the gap between Verstappen and Bottas was hovering around the 8-second mark. Raikkonen and Magnussen had quite an aggressive duel with the former rebuffing the challenge ( lap 48 ). Raikkonen then passed Gasly to move up to P12 on lap 49. Gasly ditched his hard tyres for a fresh set of mediums and rejoined last... a forgettable Sunday for the Frenchman.

Perez was in DRS range and overtook Ricciardo before turn 4. It seemed like the latter was nursing an issue or running conservatively to protect the reliability of his car. Ricciardo soon fell into the clutches of the other Racing Point and Stroll was unrelenting in his pressure to claim P6. Ricciardo held on, using his battery power at the right places to maintain the status quo. The crown for the Fastest Lap shifted to Perez who was flying with the clear track in front of him. The Mexican put in a series of blistering laps! Suddenly P4 seemed a possibility... an incredible feat from P17 ( if he could accomplish it ). The gap was reducing rapidly and Albon ( in P4 ) was apprised about the situation. 

Mercedes informed Bottas ( lap 54 ) that he would catch Verstappen on the last lap with the current pace and Verstappen had picked up some front wing damage on the right-hand side. Thankfully it wasn't critical. Alfa Romeo was on the cusp of scoring points again with Giovinazzi and Raikkonen hot on the heels of 10th placed man Kvyat. The team deliberated on a position swap between their 2 drivers. Raikkonen was on fresher tyres and was stuck behind Giovinazzi, losing performance in the dirty air. 

Perez was within striking distance of P4 and in the DRS range ( lap 57 ). Albon and Perez then ran into a couple of backmarkers with the latter getting held up just a bit. Down the field, Raikkonen finally got the nod to pass Giovinazzi and hunt down Kvyat to grab the solitary point ( on lap 60 ). It would prove to be too little too late. 

Stroll was still stuck behind Ricciardo when Norris and Sainz started tussling for 8th. McLaren swapped positions with minimal time loss to either, giving Norris the license to go after the Renault and Racing Point in full earnest ( lap 62 ). Perez continued to pump in a series of fastest laps in the DRS range of Albon while Bottas was 2 seconds behind Verstappen! Verstappen complained about driveability issues and worn-out tyres and Bottas was in DRS range by lap 65. The fastest lap of the race changed hands again! It was Norris who claimed it ( lap 65 ) as he closed in on Stroll in P7. 

The battle for P2 intensified on lap 66. "Not much left on my rear tyres" quipped Max Verstappen as he led Bottas into the triple DRS zones. Bottas got close into the run at turn 3, was made to take the outside line, got better traction out of the corner and with DRS assistance the pass seemed to be complete before turn 4. However, Verstappen had other ideas and drove around the outside. Bottas was forced to yield ( at turn 5 ) and Verstappen kept his place for another lap! 
The battle resumed on the next lap with Bottas forced to take the outside line out of turn 3 again. This time he got the job done with DRS into turn 4. It was a Mercedes 1-2 ( lap 66 ). 

Lewis Hamilton, meanwhile, decided to turn up the wick and reclaimed the fastest lap point from Norris ( lap 66 ). Carlos Sainz pitted on the same lap for a fresh set of soft tyres, his goal the same. It was a free stop for the Spaniard. 

The race had come alive in the closing stages! 

Verstappen would then pit at the end of lap 68, a free stop for him as well. Kudos to the FOM for adding an extra point for the fastest lap of the race since last year. Carlos Sainz now topped the fastest laps chart but would he hold onto it until the end?

Perez knew it was now or never and tried a pass on Albon into Turn 4 ( on the penultimate lap ). The two made contact, Perez's front wing suffering damage after contact with the rear of Albon's car. The latter was lucky to come out unscathed out of the same turn where he suffered much grief a week earlier. The front wing of the Mexican's car was hanging on precariously but he kept racing. Meanwhile, Norris had joined the Ricciardo-Stroll battle for P6.

There was more drama on the penultimate lap. Lance Stroll went for a last-ditch, late-braking lunge, down the inside of Ricciardo at Turn 3, out-braked himself, ran wide, pushed Ricciardo further wide and offered Norris the chance of a double overtake. The trio raced wheel-to-wheel into turn 4 with Norris getting the jump on Ricciardo and even challenging Stroll only to relent a turn later. 

The McLaren protegee got a second shot at it on the final lap and got the job done into turn 4! 

Lewis Hamilton took the chequered flag and the win, well clear of his team-mate Bottas and Verstappen. Albon took P4.

Perez had a 6.5 seconds cushion to Norris. The gap reduced massively and Norris overtook Perez on the penultimate turn! Norris finished in P5 with Perez holding off Stroll and Ricciardo in a photo finish! Sainz and Kvyat completed the top 10 with Sainz bagging the point for the fastest lap! 

Raikkonen came across the line in P11, the Finn having to back off due to fuel saving towards the end. Magnussen and Grosjean jumped Giovinazzi for P12 and P13 respectively. Gasly was P15 followed by Russell and Latifi.



Hamilton had lapped everyone up until P9. Such was the dominance of the Mercedes! Red Bull, the best of the rest. McLaren and Racing Point had another strong weekend. Renault still had reliability issues to address. Scuderia Alpha Tauri had a mediocre weekend. Alfa Romeo Racing had a better outing while Haas F1 was relieved to finish after their double retirement the previous weekend. Williams would rue a missed opportunity with Russell.

Ferrari had a forgettable weekend and need to bring all their resources to bear to turn things around quickly. They have numerous issues to address. P11 was the best finish for a Ferrari powered car ( Alfa Romeo of Kimi Raikkonen ) this weekend. Challenging times for the most successful team on the grid.


Offtrack, Renault lodged a complaint with the FIA over the legality of the Racing Point RP20. FIA confirmed Renault's protest was admissible. There will be a full hearing.


The F1 brigade now makes its way to Hungary. The circuit, close to the city of Budapest, is a high downforce track and the chasing pack can reduce the deficit to the Mercedes here. Track position will play an important role though.

Mercedes will be glad to start the season with a win for both their drivers. Their quest for a 7th Constructors' Championship has begun on the right note. The three-pointed star landed a knockout punch in both the bouts.

Mercedes reigned supreme in the Sytrian countryside! Bring on Hungary!!

2020 Austrian GP Race Recap : Season Opener serves up a Race of Attrition!

2020 has been a challenging year. The Pandemic Covid-19 brought the entire world to a standstill with nations having to enforce lockdowns, instructing their populace to exercise social distancing and employ extensive sanitization measures. Sporting events had to be postponed or cancelled throughout the year and F1 was no exception. The sport attempted to kick-start the season in Australia in March but the event was called off on Friday morning after a couple of personnel in the paddock tested positive. Consequently, more racing events were cancelled or postponed and there was a possibility of a heavily truncated 2020 F1 season.

Thankfully the "curve flattened" in Europe ( from June ) and various sporting events announced dates for resumption in 2020. Formula One Management also drew up plans and the season would kick off at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria on the first weekend of July, with a calendar featuring 15 to 16 races. 

Unfortunately the first 8 races viz. Austrian & Styrian GPs, Hungarian GP, British GP, 70th Anniversary GP, Spanish GP, Belgian GP and the Italian GP would be closed-door events with a set of protocols in place to protect the well-being of the travelling F1 Fraternity.


Let us have a quick recap of the opening race weekend!


Practice :

Friday and Saturday Free Practices saw the dominance of Mercedes powered cars with the Honda-powered Red Bulls trying their best to keep the Mercedes' works team honest. Ferrari suffered from a lack of straight-line speed while their customers - Haas and Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen had balance issues. Racing Point was a revelation, so was McLaren; Renault featured in the top 10 as well. Less than half a second separated P3 from P16, qualifying would be a closely contested affair!



Qualifying :

Q1 saw almost all drivers set lap times on soft tyres ( bar Albon who used a Medium set ). Magnussen, Russell, Giovinazzi, Raikkonen and Latifi were the casualties. Raikkonen complained about traffic on his final run. Ricciardo ran wide just ahead of him throwing up a lot of gravel onto the racing line compromising his times even further. Nevertheless, it was a day to forget for Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen.. a team which was 1.1 seconds quicker and in Q3 last year; back to the drawing board for them. 

Max Verstappen set a banker lap with a set of Medium tyres while his team-mate made a mistake on his first run but had the luxury of an extra set of soft tyres to set things right on the second. The Ferrari duo of Leclerc and Vettel struggled to keep up with their lap times; the former just scraping through in 10th while the latter ending up as the first big casualty of Q2. Gasly, Kvyat, Ocon, Grosjean were the others eliminated. Ocon had a lacklustre Saturday and was hoping to things around 24 hours later. Everyone barring Verstappen had set their fastest lap on the soft tyres. Red Bull's decision to have Max start the race on a medium set of tyres could prove pivotal in terms of strategy.

Mercedes AMG Petronas turned up their engines and went all out in Q3. They opened up a considerable gap to their immediate challengers ( Red Bull ) with Bottas getting provisional pole against Hamilton. Verstappen & Albon were P3 and P4, followed by Perez, Leclerc and Sainz. Norris, Stroll and Ricciardo opted for only one run in Q3. 

Bottas was on a flyer in his final run but ran wide and onto the gravel, bringing out yellow flags and compromising the times of the cars behind him. Lewis ( who was behind him ) set personal best sector times but couldn't beat his team-mate and had to settle for a front-row start. Verstappen qualified 3rd while Norris catapulted himself to 4th to split the Red Bulls. A great qualifying session for McLaren! Albon was 5th followed by Perez, Leclerc, Sainz, Stroll and Ricciardo.


Hamilton had ignored Yellow Flags on his final run in Q3 ( due to Bottas' offtrack excursion ) and got docked 3 places after Red Bull protested against the Stewards' decision to not penalize him earlier for the infringement. The penalty was dished out just an hour before the start of the race and the 6 times World Champion would have to start the race in 5th.



Race :

Red Bull had enjoyed a fair share of success at their home race with Max Verstappen winning the previous 2 editions and many experts believed the performance deficit would reduce with Verstappen starting on the more lasting set of medium tyres. Mercedes too had an ace up their sleeve, their much talked about DAS - Dual-Axis Steering System. They opted to use it only for the race. DAS is a device that appears to change the alignment (toe) of the front wheels. It is controlled by the driver by pulling and pushing on the steering column. 

More on that here: https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/article.das-explained-what-we-know-so-far-about-mercedes-trick-new-steering-system.4vgDQ6cc20xUfhdZGT0ejB.html

Red Bull Racing lodged an official protest over the legality of the system but their claims were rejected by the FIA.

Tyre choices were the same for everyone outside the top 10 ( Medium set ). The lap times around the circuit are pretty short so the timing of the pit stops had to be perfect for the front runners.

The 5 red lights went out and the 2020 season got underway with Bottas leading into the first turn from Verstappen and Norris. Norris tried to challenge Max but the Dutchman held firm. Hamilton too put extensive pressure on Albon but status quo was maintained. It was a clean getaway and a clean opening lap for all 20 drivers.

Bottas slowly pulled away from Verstappen while Albon breezed past Norris with DRS Assistance on lap 3. Norris was then passed by Hamilton a lap later and relegated to 5th. 

Sebastian Vettel finally made it past Ricciardo to get into points-scoring position on lap 7. Hamilton, on the other hand, overtook Albon on lap 9 and started eating into the lead that the duo at the front had built. 

Disaster struck Max Verstappen on Lap 12. The Dutchman slowed down and rapidly lost places while trying to run through a series of settings on his dash to restore power to his Honda unit. He complained about the car going into anti-stall after every mode change. He limped back into the pits, the team put on a set of hard tyres, even performed a Steering Wheel change at the stop but the problem seemed terminal. He climbed out of the car and into retirement on lap 14, visibly frustrated. 

The Mercedes duo now had a free run at the front and it seemed that they were destined for a 1-2; the order though was debatable as Lewis continued to chip away at Bottas' lead. Lap 18 saw more drama with Lance Stroll who was running in 8th started suffering from sensor issues on his engine and lost positions to Vettel and Gasly in the space of 2 laps. He would eventually drive back to his garage at the end of lap 21, a sad end after a promising Saturday. Bottas and Hamilton were notified about the sensor failure and instructed to take utmost care of the car. Daniel Ricciardo too suffered a retirement, cooling issues on his power unit to blame. ( Lap 18 ). Grosjean had a quick trip across the gravel at turn 5 while Kimi Raikkonen passed his team-mate Antonio Giovinazzi to take over 13th in his pursuit of Magnussen and Ocon. The Finn pitted for a set of Hard Tyres on Lap 25 to undercut both.

Magnussen suffered a front brake failure while defending from Ocon on lap 26 ( Turn 1 ) bringing out the Safety Car. A slew of pit stops followed a lap later with everyone opting for the Hard Compound tyres. Perez and Norris were neck and neck out of their respective pit boxes but the Racing Point driver avoided the fast lane thus escaping from an unsafe release investigation. 

Racing resumed on Lap 31 with Sainz challenging Leclerc for P6 going into Turn 3. The Spaniard was on the outside and had to give up on the move to make the corner but Sebastian Vettel who was behind him went for a late and unrealistic lunge, locked up, got spun around and suffered damage besides being relegated to 15th place! The stewards deemed the incident as "no action necessary".

Perez went past Norris on lap 34 while the Mercedes started building up a gap again. Grosjean was served a black and white flag for exceeding track limits on multiple occasions, the warning adding insult to injury to an already under-performing Haas driver.

The fight at the front was pretty tense with Hamilton staying within DRS Range but not getting too close to avoid the dirty air from the Mercedes in front. He was also very vocal about the strategy employed by the team and wanted the right of passage since he believed he could go quicker. Both drivers were once again warned about their sensor issues - engine and gearbox and instructed to avoid using the kerbs as much as possible. These instructions didn't stop being issued and eventually, the Chief Strategist James Vowles came on the radio to warn them that the levels were "critical" ( Lap 47 ). Meanwhile, Vettel was stuck behind Raikkonen in 14th who eventually went past Russell on lap 45, the Finn losing positions due to the timing of the Safety car earlier. 

Bottas, Hamilton, Albon, Perez, Norris, Leclerc, Sainz, Gasly, Kvyat and Ocon were the top 10 at the end of Lap 48. 

2 Laps later, Grosjean suffered a brake failure like his team-mate and was forced to retire while the Williams of George Russell suffered a sensor issue and ground to a halt on Lap 51. This caused another safety car to be deployed and barring the Mercedes duo and Perez, everyone else pitted for a set of fresh tyres for the final stint of the race. The Renault of Ocon and Alfa Romeo of Giovinazzi jumped Kvyat after the round of pit stops, both moving up into points-scoring positions. Perez also gained track position on Albon.

The battle at the front was now an intriguing one with the Mercedes' drivers on a used set of Hard Tyres, Perez on a used set of Mediums and the rest of the pack on brand new sets of tyres ( some on softs, some on mediums ).

The safety car pulled into the pits on lap 54 and Albon went about reclaiming 3rd place from Perez in full earnest. 2 corners into the restart and the safety car had to be redeployed! This time it was Kimi Raikkonen who had stalled on the start-finish straight minus the right front wheel! Replays showed that the wheel had gotten undone when the Finn went over the penultimate turn at the restart! He would be the 7th retirement of the Race, a cross-threaded wheel nut to blame! His team-mate Giovinazzi ran wide on Turn 1 ( at the restart ) and was relegated to P13.

The cars then had to pass through the pits while the stricken Alfa Romeo was cleared off the start-finish straight. Albon who had earlier challenged Perez for P3 was allowed to take up that position after replays showed that he was already ahead of Perez ( under racing conditions on Lap 54 ) before the Safety Car was deployed for the third time. He now at a great chance of a podium, possibly a win!

The safety car pulled into the pits on Lap 61 and Bottas had a great restart but Lewis came under intense pressure from Albon at turn 3. The battle continued on the run into turn 4 and Albon was forced to take the outside line. There was contact between the duo and Albon was sent into a spin! Albon didn't mince his words over the radio! Perez, Norris and Leclerc now completed the top 5 while the remaining Red Bull rejoined in 13th and last! 

The Stewards initiated an investigation into the incident ( on Lap 64 ). A rejuvenated Leclerc made an amazing move on Norris to take P4 on the same lap and also set the fastest lap of the race. 2 Laps later, on lap 66, he performed an amazing late braking manoeuvre into turn 3 to take P3 from Perez. The Ferrari had come alive! 

Lewis Hamilton was handed a 5 second time penalty for his collision with Albon which would effectively mean that Leclerc and possibly Perez could end up on the podium! ( More on that later )

Perez's hopes of a podium were dashed on Lap 68 after he was handed a time penalty of 5 seconds for speeding in the pit lane; to make matters worse, Lando Norris made a lunge down the inside at turn 3 a lap later, banging wheels and relegating him to P5. Lando now had the chance to reduce the deficit to Hamilton and possibly get a maiden podium finish! There was action at the back of the pack as well. Antonio Giovinazzi made up for the places he lost with overtakes that promoted him to P9, even fending off a charge by Vettel! Kvyat was the one going backwards in this tussle.

Bottas and Hamilton were given "full beans" to help the latter build a five-second buffer to the 4th placed man Norris. Hamilton set a couple of fastest laps and the team even pondered on a position switch to better his chances. 

There was more drama on Lap 69 with Albon pulling over to the side of the track after what seemed to be a power unit failure. One lap later, Daniil Kvyat suffered a Rear Right Suspension Failure to become the 9th and the final retirement of the race! 

It seemed that Lewis would still end up on the podium with Lando Norris being just outside the 5-second window on the penultimate lap. 

The young British driver had other plans! He punched in the fastest lap of the race on the final lap pipping his countryman to a well deserved maiden podium finish!!!

Bottas had driven a flawless race to win the first race of the 2020 F1 Season! Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris produced stunning drives to finish P2 and P3 respectively. Lewis Hamilton had to settle for P4 while Sainz, Perez, Gasly, Ocon, Giovinazzi and Vettel completed the top 10. Rookie Nicolas Latifi would take 11th, the final finisher of a retirement laden race!



Analysis of the Albon-Hamilton Incident :

Albon was on a brand new set of soft tyres while Lewis was on a set of old hard tyres. Albon got great traction out of Turn 2 and carried that momentum into Turn 3 and Turn 4. Lewis placed his car pretty well and the only way to pass was on the outside. The power deficit on the Honda meant that Albon couldn't pass Lewis on the 2 DRS straights and would have to make a move under braking. He was able to execute this and was ahead of Lewis at the exit of Turn 4. Lewis held his line but didn't go full lock on his steering ( personal opinion ); eventually, this angle would lead him to tangle with Albon, the rear of the Red Bull taking the hit and going into a spin.   

There is no place for niceties in the world of racing and Lewis is one tough customer. However, he was fighting a losing battle here and should have displayed better spacial awareness. Albon had run out of road.

In Lewis' defence, he was on a set of worn-out hard tyres so was lacking grip and traction coming out of the turn. Possibly, he couldn't have turned anymore and this caused the eventual contact. The universal rule in racing is that the car with track position should always have the right of way and Lewis was penalized for this breach. Thankfully the severity of the penalties have been reduced from this year and Lewis got a time penalty of only 5 seconds. Albon came off worse losing the chance of his maiden podium or even win, eventually retiring on lap 69. 


 Post-race investigation of  Kimi Raikkonen's retirement revealed that a wheel nut was cross-threaded in his pit stop and  Alfa Romeo were fined 5000 Euros for this. Tough day at the office for the most experienced man on the grid.


The season opener was a thriller!  Bottas began the season on the right note with Mercedes still being the fastest car on the grid but with chinks in their armour. Ferrari had a poor Saturday but Leclerc stepped up to the challenge and produced a stellar drive on the day that mattered. Vettel could have done likewise but for the incident; he will have another shot at it later this week. McLaren's resurgence was the talk of the paddock and Lando Norris deserved special praise for pushing right till the end and bagging his maiden podium. Sainz Jr. put in yet another consistent drive. The days of old were back for the Woking-based outfit.  Racing Point wasn't far behind and will have a say sooner rather than later.  Red Bull Racing would be hoping to have better reliability with their Honda units for Round 2 next week as they have the pace to challenge for a win. Renault's struggles seem to be far from over and they need to improve. Haas & Alfa Romeo are in a similar situation with their pace considerably slower to the times last year. Giovinazzi was the saving grace for Alfa. The Italian Stallion drove a great race to finish P9 and bring home a couple of points. Williams is improving and I believe that they shall be in the points soon.


The second race of the season will be on the same track the following weekend. Addressing reliability will be the main concern for all teams. We might be served another masterpiece in the hills of Styria!  


The F1 Season is truly underway!

The F1 Travel Guide : Hockenheimring, Hockenheim, Germany

The German Grand Prix was a regular feature on the F1 Calendar and produced some memorable races. The track where this race was hosted alternated between the legendary Nurburgring and Hockenheim circuits. Nurburgring couldn't host more events post 2013 ( due to financial woes ) and Hockenheim became the permanent abode for the German Grand Prix ( 2014 onwards ). The country, home to multiple F1 greats, be it drivers or constructors like Mercedes has seen some incredible racing over the years. 

The 2019 German GP was voted as the "Race of the Decade" by the fans! 

However, citing financial issues, the race was sadly taken off the calendar for 2020. The season hasn't kicked off yet due to the Covid-19 pandemic and after the cancellation of many races from this year's calendar, there is a glimmer of hope that this circuit might make an unlikely return. 

I had the honour of attending the 2014 and the 2018 editions. 2014, was my first as a guest of Scuderia Ferrari F1 team while 2018 saw Vettel make an uncharacteristic error and crash out of the lead. Kimi Raikkonen was the saving grace that day after he finished P3 with a very compromised strategy. Who can forget how the heavens opened after the race came to an end!



My experience from the 2018 German Grand Prix :






The Circuit Layout :



Official Website :



Location :

The circuit is located at a short distance from the town of Hockenheim in the Rhine Valley in the Baden-Württemberg region. The circuit is well connected by road ( thanks to the high-speed Autobahns of the country which run into the neighbouring countries as well ), rail ( DB Bahn ) and even air! It is also close to bigger towns like Mannheim and Heidelberg and cities like Frankfurt and Stuttgart! 


Closest Airports :

The Closest Airport is Mannheim City Airport but it is used majorly for Chartered Travel. 

Frankfurt Airport ( FRA ) is the airport of choice for almost all F1 travellers. The busiest airport in Germany caters to a large number of International Carriers bringing in flyers from all habitable continents. It is also the main hub for the National Carrier Lufthansa. Lot of low - cost European carriers offer connections to Frankfurt from major European cities.

Stuttgart Airport ( STR ) is another point of entry, albeit further away and caters to several European and a couple of Asian Carriers.

I chose to fly on Emirates to Frankfurt via Dubai. The 2018 Experience is featured here :




Where to Stay :

Accommodation options in the town of Hockenheim are limited and tend to get sold out early in the year. 

Walldorf is another town which offers a few options and its a 10-minute drive to the circuit. However, most of the hotels are occupied by the teams over the weekend. One can still try and book a room at inflated non-refundable rates and probably meet someone famous from the paddock at one of these properties. 

I chose to stay in Frankfurt during the 2014 race weekend; the commute was good on Friday but come Saturday and Sunday, an early departure ( around 7 pm ) was advisable to make it in time for the morning sessions.

In 2018, I considered staying in the town of Heidelberg, a city well frequented by other tourists as well. However the options there were quite expensive; besides the "touristy" element, a lot of F1 Media and Personnel choose to stay there which explains the inflated pricing and limited availability. Heidelberg is situated on one side of Autobahn 6 while on the other side is the city of Mannheim! 

Mannheim is the third-largest city of the region and one of the important commercial and economic hubs. The accommodation options are many and prices are relatively cheaper than those on offer in Hockenheim or Heidelberg. Mannheim is also the only city which offers direct connections to the circuit via rail ( more on that later ). This is the city of choice for me if I were to make plans in the future. I chose the Radisson Blu which is close to the city centre and also used by the FIA and the Safety car Drivers over the weekend!

The ones who plan to rough it out would be glad to know that the circuit offers some great camping facilities! A lot of fans flock to Hockenheim from all over Europe over the weekend.

More Information is available here :



Circuit Access :

By Road :

The circuit is extremely well connected to various cities of Germany and beyond by their efficient road networks and the Autobahns. The commute from Frankfurt can vary between 60 to 90 minutes ( depending on the traffic over the weekend ). The commute from Mannheim ( via Autobahn 6 ) and Heidelberg ( via Autobahn 5 ) is about 30 minutes. It is best to opt for car hire and buy parking passes over the weekend. There are a couple of taxi drop-off points but they can be a considerable walk if one doesn't opt to use the circuit shuttle. Taxis are sparse on the return journey as well so its advisable to wait longer at the circuit post-race.
This is the only way of a commute if one chooses to stay in Walldorf for the weekend.


By Rail :

DB Bahn is a great way to travel across the country. Major Cities are well connected to the station in Hockenheim. There are circuit shuttles which ply from the station to the circuit, the distance is about 3 km. Commute time from Mannheim to Hockenheim is about 20 minutes, from Heidelberg & Frankfurt is about 45 minutes & 75 minutes respectively. All connections run via Mannheim. 

Tickets can be purchased from https://www.bahn.com/en/view/index.shtml


By Air :

Helicopter Transfers are also available for those who wish to fly into the circuit. A lot of the F1 Drivers use this mode for travel.


More information on all these options can be found here :



F1 Village, Fan Zones :

The F1 Village is located behind the Main Grandstand and has a semi-modern feel to it. There are a plethora of merchandising outlets ( the Official F1 Store included ) selling different team merchandise. Outlets selling Michael Schumacher Merchandise are always crowded and there are some unique items on sale at the Official Circuit Merchandise outlet as well. 

The Village is also a hub for off-track activity, be it Simulator Experiences or Fan Q&A sessions or Pit Stop and Reaction Time ( Batak ) Challenges. Food & Beverage options are pretty good with the "Frankfurter" outlets being the most popular. The village is well planned and I never came across the issue of over-crowding on any of the days.

There are smaller merchandising and F&B outlets behind other grandstands as well.


Fan Experiences :

The circuit is home to some of the most passionate fans and the Mercedes Grandstand is one of the star grandstands. It offers some of the best views of the track and its popularity has increased all the more, thanks to the dominance of the Three-Pointed Star in the Turbo Era. 

Friday is an open-access day to most of the grandstands so fans can take in views from different sections of the track! 

3-day Ticket Holders can enjoy a Pit Lane Walk, Driver Autograph Sessions and a Track Walk on Thursdays. There is trackside commentary in English and German.

It is advisable to carry rain gear as torrential rain isn't uncommon. The drainage facilities need to improve though; a lot of the access tunnels and roads got flooded after the race in 2018.

The circuit changed in 2002 and although a part of the old circuit layout is now a forest, it is a nice walk in the woods for race fans.

VIP Guests, Paddock & Paddock Club Guests can avail of Pirelli Hot Laps Experience around this iconic track.

F1 Experiences offers upgrades for standard tickets with experiences such as Guided Track Truck Tour, Guided Paddock Tour, Support Race Paddock Visit, Podium Visit and Photo-op with Race Winning Trophy!

The Hockenheimring Museum is a must-visit for those who love racing history. There are also track days organised for those who wish to hire supercars or bring their own for a round of the track; for those who want to indulge in some racing, there are go-karting facilities in and around Hockenheim!


Hockenheimring has so much history about it and Germany has contributed so much to the world of F1. It is unfortunate to not see this track on the F1 Calendar anymore but I still believe that it might make a return either this year or the next and if it does, then one must draw up plans to be at the legendary German Grand Prix!

The F1 Travel Guide : Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain

The Circuit de Catalunya, home to the Spanish Grand Prix is the first European race on the F1 Calendar. It is also the race where teams bring in major upgrades from their factories all over Europe. The circuit also hosts the 2 tests held over the winter break ( pre-season testing ) before the start of a new F1 season. 

Moto GP races are also held here, albeit in a slightly different configuration. 

The circuit is a true test for any racer, be it on two wheels or four. Shortcomings, if any, are all revealed here! 

I had the privilege of seeing Max Verstappen won his first race ( on debut ) with Red Bull Racing ( youngest race winner in F1 )(  in 2016 ) after the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton & Nico Rosberg took each other out on the opening lap. Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel completed a double podium for Ferrari that day

The race in 2017 had a more disappointing outcome for the Iceman but he won the hearts of one and all by meeting the 6-year-old Thomas Danel, the kid who was shown weeping trackside after Raikkonen's retirement due to a collision in the race.


My experience from 2017 is shared here :

https://tech-know-crat.posthaven.com/a-gallery-of-memories-part-13

https://tech-know-crat.posthaven.com/paddock-club-diares-2017-spanish-grand-prix-day-1

https://tech-know-crat.posthaven.com/paddock-club-diares-2017-spanish-grand-prix-day-2

https://tech-know-crat.posthaven.com/paddock-club-diares-2017-spanish-grand-prix-day-3



The Circuit Layout :



Official Website :

https://www.circuitcat.com/en/



Location :

The Circuit is located in the town of Montmelo, about 30 km from Barcelona. Built by the legendary circuit designer Herman Tilke, the race is considered one of the biggest sporting events on the nation's calendar. Its one of the easiest circuits to get to, one reason being its proximity to a big city and other being the ease of access via road, rail and even air! The sunny Mediterranean weather also makes a visit to the circuit quite appealing!


Closest Airports :

Barcelona El-Prat International Airport ( BCN ) is the nearest airport to the circuit and caters to a plethora of European low cost, Transatlantic and other International Carriers. Iberia Airlines, the nation's national carrier also offers multiple connections from their base in Madrid. It is the airport of choice for almost all visitors!

Emirates offers multiple services from Dubai to Barcelona every day.

My Emirates Flight Experience ( latest ) from Mumbai to Barcelona is shared here :


The city of Barcelona is also well connected by road and rail to other major European cities, the latter being used by many fans.



Where to Stay :

The accommodation options in Montmelo, be it Airbnb or Hotels are sold out quite early in the year. Most rates are non-refundable and a premium is charged over the race weekend. It is best to stay in the city of Barcelona. Barcelona has a wide range of accommodation on offer from Airbnb & Budget Hotels to ultra-luxurious properties like the Hotel Arts or The W. I recommend staying in areas like Avinguda Diagonal ( have stayed at the Novotel & Hilton ) or Via Laietana which are pretty lively and offer great options for shopping and dining. Many F1 teams stay in the Diagonal area with McLaren having their Annual Gala Dinner on a Saturday evening in the city! 


There is never a dull evening in the city. Some fans opt to stay in the town of Girona which is further away, more peaceful and gives visitors a glimpse of life and architecture during the Medieval time.

There are multiple camping options near the track as well.


Circuit Access :

The Circuit is well connected by road, rail and air! The commute is pretty brisk and everything functions like a well-oiled machine every year.

One can refer to this link to explore the various options of commute :


By Road :

Taxis are readily available in Barcelona city and the commute time is about 40 minutes to the circuit. Those with VIP Passes get the option of a drop off right at the Paddock Club Entry, Paddock Access gates; one of the few circuits which offer such a privilege. There are other taxi drop-off points all over the circuit too and one must be prepared to queue in the evenings for the return journey. There is Uber as well, surge pricing applicable.

Many fans use a car hire service ( readily available at the city or airport ); its advisable to get a parking pass in the area closer to the selected grandstand. Thankfully there is ample parking space at the circuit.

Sagales offers Bus Services from Barcelona City Centre to the circuit. Price of the return ticket is about 12 Euros per day and tickets can be booked on https://www.sagales.com/en 

Commute time is about 50 minutes but can get long on a Sunday morning and Evening.

There are also shuttle buses plying from Montmelo Station to the Circuit.


By Rail :

Spain has one of the best rail networks of Europe and is the preferred mode of commute for most of the fans over the race weekend. There are connections from both Barcelona and Girona to Montmelo Station from where one can either walk to the circuit ( a 30-minute walk ) or opt for a shuttle bus which drops off fans at the circuit entrance near Turn 1. 


From Barcelona : 

Hop on to the Rodalies Line R2 Nord ( Green line ) bound for Granollers Centre from Barcelona Sants or Passeig de Gracia or El-Clot Arago Stations and alight at Montemelo Station.

More Information on the Line with the stops: https://www.barcelonas.com/rodalies-r2-nord.html


From Girona :

Hop on to the Roadlies Line R11 ( Blue ) bound for Barcelona and switch to the R2 or R8 line for Montmelo at Granollers Centre Station.


Single Day and Multi-day return journey tickets are available on http://rodalies.gencat.cat/en/inici/



By Air :

Arrive in Style aboard a Helicopter, a commuting method used by the rich and famous throughout the weekend. Its an experience of a lifetime offered by almost all hospitality partners of the sport.



F1 Village, Fan Zones :

The F1 Village, situated behind the Main Grandstand has gone through a major revamp. Fans can purchase their favourite team gear from the respective merchandising outlets or even the Official F1 Store. Prices are more or less on par with other circuits of Europe. 
The Avinguda dels Campions which has Plaques of World Championship winning racers ( on 2 wheels and 4 ) is also located in the village.
Competitions such as the Pit Stop Challenge, Batak Challenge and the Simulator races run throughout the weekend with prizes ranging from Paddock Passes, Hospitality experiences on Sunday or goodie bags.
There is also a stage erected in the F1 Village where Drivers' and Team Principals' appearances happen on Friday and Saturday ( in the evening ).
There are smaller merchandising and food outlets located behind other grandstands as well. The quality and the variety of food on offer is pretty poor. Thankfully, fans are allowed to bring food and drink into the track. Alcohol and Canned Drinks are banned.



Fan Experiences :

3 Day ticket holders are eligible for Pit Lane Walks on Thursdays.  A Drivers' Autograph Session is also planned at the same time.

Like Suzuka in Japan, fans can enjoy views of the circuit from various grandstands, known as "Free Friday".
There is also a track run organised on Saturday evening. Details would be shared by the circuit organisers on their official website.
There is trackside commentary in English, French, Spanish and Catalan on the local radio. 

Most of the Stands are uncovered, so it is advisable to wear protective headgear.

VIP Guests, Paddock Club Guests and Celebrities can purchase a Pirelli Hot Laps Experience ( pricing dependent on the type of car and the day ). 
F1 Experiences offers fans the opportunity of a Guided Paddock Tour or a Guided Track Tour on a Parade Truck or a Guided Pit Lane Tour or a Photo Opportunity on the Podium with the Race Winning Trophies.

More Information about the same is available here: https://f1experiences.com/2021-spanish-grand-prix

I also recommend visiting "PortAventura World", a theme park complex approximately 100 km from Barcelona featuring 3 Theme Parks - PortAventura Park, Caribe Aquatic Park and Ferrari Land!

Ferrari Land is a must-visit on the Wednesday of the race week since the Scuderia Ferrari F1 team host an event there with their F1 drivers!


More Info Available here: https://www.portaventuraworld.com/en


One can also drive around the "Montjuic Circuit" which is in Barcelona and used to be the venue for racing for Moto GP and F1 in the 1970s. It was also the only circuit to see a female driver score Championship points.




Circuit de Catalunya has a charm of its own. Many fans prefer this over other classic tracks on the calendar. The sunny weather, proximity to a big metropolitan, ease of commute, great views from every grandstand gives it a different vibe altogether. It is been 3 years since I last visited this historical track..hopefully in 2021!!


The F1 Travel Guide : Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is one of the most popular races on the F1 Calendar ( also being the first dusk race ).

Designed by the legendary circuit designer Hermann Tilke, it has been the season-ending race ( but for 3 years ) with Lewis Hamilton being the most successful driver here.

Who can forget the nail-biting finish in 2010, when Fernando Alonso failed to overtake Vitaly Petrov which let Sebastian Vettel win his maiden Championship or the Drama that unfolded between Lewis Hamilton & Nico Rosberg in 2014 and 2016 when the title fight went right down to the wire! 

Who can forget Kimi Raikkonen's win at the circuit in 2012 ( after his return to F1 ) which featured those famous radio communications: "Just leave me alone, I know what I am doing" & "Yes Yes Yes I am doing it all the time, you don't have to remind me every 10 seconds!" or those horrendous crashes between Rosberg & Karthikeyan in 2012 and Hulkenberg & Grosjean in 2018. 

The circuit is also a venue for goodbyes..be it for Drivers leaving a team or F1 personnel switching to another employer or taking retirement from the sport altogether. It is also the place when everyone wishes each other a restful winter break and drivers make a resolve to return stronger for the next season. 

I still remember those weekends of 2013 and 2018, the two occasions on which I was present at the track. 



My experience from 2018 is shared here :

https://tech-know-crat.posthaven.com/a-gallery-of-memories-part-17

https://tech-know-crat.posthaven.com/paddock-club-diaries-2018-abu-dhabi-gp-day-1

https://tech-know-crat.posthaven.com/paddock-club-diaries-2018-abu-dhabi-gp-day-2

https://tech-know-crat.posthaven.com/paddock-club-diaries-2018-abu-dhabi-gp-day-3



The Circuit Layout :



Official Website :

https://www.yasmarinacircuit.com/



Location :

The Circuit is located on Yas Island, a 30-minute drive from Abu Dhabi city centre. It is easily accessible from Dubai as well. There are multiple exits offering access to the island from the highway connecting Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The island is home to several hotels, a water park and the iconic Ferrari World! Its a place bustling with activity all over the weekend and sees a lot of visitors on normal days as well! The island, built-in 2006 has infused a major boost to an already thriving economy of the country. Etihad Airways, the national carrier of UAE is the title sponsor for the race.



Closest Airports :

Abu Dhabi International Airport ( AUH ) is the nearest airport to the circuit and one of the biggest international hubs in the Middle East offering connections to all parts of the world! Its also home to the National carrier of the UAE Etihad Airways.

Dubai International Airport ( DXB ) which is less than 100 km from Yas Island cannot be discounted either. Home to one of the largest airlines in the world, Emirates, its the busiest airport in the Middle East ( and 5th in the world ). All the airlines of the world fly to Dubai. It is also a major hub for Emirates' Codeshare partner Qantas Airways.

Emirates is the airline of choice for me - excellent connections worldwide, a modern fleet of aircraft & fantastic services onboard. Emirates owned Low-Cost Carrier FlyDubai which offers connections to Africa, Central Asia, the Indian Subcontinent and some parts of Europe also has Dubai as its hub of operations. 


My Emirates Flight Experience ( latest ) from Mumbai to Dubai is shared here :




Where to Stay :

There are a lot of options over a race weekend. If budget is not an issue, then its best to opt for a Hotel on Yas Island. There is always a premium to be paid over the weekend, most of them non-refundable rates. Those with even deeper pockets can stay at the unique Yas Viceroy Hotel which is within the circuit, overlooking a lot of sections of the track! There are also a few Airbnb apartments in the vicinity of the Island but they tend to sell out quickly. 

Abu Dhabi has a lot of hotels from budget to serviced apartments to ultra-luxury accommodation and its best to stay near the city centre which offers multiple options for a commute to the Island. The hotels in the city charge a premium over the weekend as well. 
Airbnb accommodation is available as well. Most of the rates are non-refundable.

Dubai is another great place to stay ( my city of choice ) with options for all pockets and prices comparatively cheaper ( no premium charged ) to those in Abu Dhabi. However, one must be prepared for a 90-minute commute to the circuit each way ( which can be expensive in a taxi ).

There is no camping facility at the track.



Circuit Access :

The Circuit is well connected by road, sea and even air! There are multiple entry points into the circuit and kudos to the Race Organizers for doing a top job every year. 
 
Taxis are plentiful at the circuit and the preferred mode of transport for most! There is also Uber on offer but with surge pricing, flagging down a taxi tends to be cheaper. VIP Guests can make their way to the Yas Viceroy Hotel Entrance and then walk down to a water taxi which takes the guests across to a Paddock Club / Paddock Access gate, the journey from the Hotel to the Access Gate takes about 20 minutes. 
Most hotels on the Yas Island offer free circuit shuttles to the main circuit entrance, so one can utilize those shuttles if they have friends staying on the island. There is another access via Ferrari World, one can walk or hop onto a circuit shuttle to enter the circuit.
Do note that there can be long queues every evening post the sessions/concerts so it makes sense to use the circuit shuttle to go further away from the circuit to take cabs back to the city. 

I stay in Dubai and use a taxi service to one of the Yas Island Hotels where my friends stay over the weekend ( the commute from Dubai takes about 90 minutes ). We then use a Complimentary Shuttle provided by the Hotel which drops us at the Main Entrance, it is a short walk to the Paddock Club from thereon ( using tunnel access under the circuit ).

Those who choose a car hire can purchase trackside parking ( which is limited in number ) or park at the Yas Mall and get on a circuit shuttle from there. There are multiple car hire options at both airports and cities.

Buses are the cheapest mode of transport for the weekend. Bus Number 190 runs from Abu Dhabi Bus Station ( next to Al Wahda Mall ) to Yas Island. If travelling from Dubai one must use a service from Al Ghubaiba Bus Station to Abu Dhabi and then hop on to the 190 to Yas Island. The commute to Yas Island from Abu Dhabi Bus Station takes about 40 minutes with buses every 20 minutes. 

There are multiple complementary shuttle buses on Yas Island which connects hotels to various attractions, hotels, malls and the various grandstands.

The main shuttles are the Circuit Circular Shuttle and the Yas Courtesy Shuttle. The former runs around Yas Island and through the Yas Marina Circuit. The latter runs within the circuit premises and is available for any ticket holder throughout the weekend. Other shuttle services are the Pit Lane Walk Shuttle, Paddock Club Shuttle and Yas Suite Shuttle. 

Details about the Various Shuttle Buses are shared here :



There is also another service called the Yas Express, a shuttle that gets you around Yas Island. 

More Details shared here :



These buses tend to get jam-packed in the evenings as the fans make their way to the concert arena ( or their way home ). It is advisable to walk ( if the distance isn't too long ) under such circumstances.

High fliers also have the option to book Helicopter Transfers, to and fro from the circuit!



F1 Village, Fan Zones :

The F1 Village, situated behind the Main Grandstand is one of the best on the F1 calendar. There are many merchandising and food outlets along with a few stores selling Official Circuit Merchandise as well. The Official F1 Store is well stocked and one of the largest. 
There are makeshift stages for performances by local artists throughout the day, Circuit Mascots strutting their stuff with volunteers distributing circuit guides, Race Programmes & Protective Headsets. Show cars on display by companies like McLaren, Renault and Mercedes make this village a must-visit!
Competitions such as the Pit Stop Challenge, Batak Challenge and the Simulator faceoff run throughout the weekend. The winner of the Simulator competition over Friday and Saturday wins couple passes for the Paddock Club for Sunday. 
There are smaller merchandising and food outlets spread over other parts of the circuit as well. Food options are limited but reasonably priced.



Fan Experiences :

3 Day ticket holders are eligible for Pit Lane Walks on Thursdays. VIP Guests, Paddock Club Guests and Celebrities can purchase a Pirelli Hot Laps Experience ( pricing dependent on the type of car and the day ). 
There are concerts on all days i.e. Thursday to Sunday. These are free with a valid race ticket for the day but fans need to collect a wristband from the Oasis area for access to the concert. It is a daily exercise for those planning to be at all the concerts!
F1 Experiences, the official hospitality partner of the sport offers fans great upgrades to their existing tickets, from single day Paddock Club passes to guided Paddock Tours, guided Track Truck Tours, guided Podium Visits and Photo-op with the Race Winning Trophy!

The "YasHub" app ( available on iOS & Android ) keeps fans up to date with all that is happening over the weekend. 

It is recommended wearing hats or caps and light clothing ( in adherence to the laws of the land ) since it can get pretty hot during the day. 
Fans cannot bring any food or drink to the circuit and one must be prepared to be screened thoroughly at the circuit entrance gates.  

The Circuit also offers guided tours ( on normal days ), go-karting experiences, track days in Formula cars or other supercars! Details are available on their official website.

Yas Island itself is a must-visit for any traveller to the UAE. The Island is home to 3 world-class parks - the Ferrari World, an indoor theme park run by the Italian brand with its famous Prancing Horse logo on the roof and is situated next to the track. The team also runs a special activity on Thursday, so fans at the park can get a glimpse of the Ferrari F1 Drivers;  the Yas Waterworld, a huge waterpark and the island's newest addition Warner Bros World which is a theme park devoted to the characters of Looney Toons, DC Comics and Hannah-Barbera
Visitors can purchase 2 days-2 parks or 3 days- 3 parks tickets. 
The Marina itself is worth a visit; one can enjoy beautiful sunsets while wining and dining at some of the finest restaurants and cafes dotting the marina. Its also home to many Luxurious yachts, some of which are venues for parties on a race weekend.


The Yas Marina Circuit leaves a lasting impression. It offers so much more than just a normal F1 Race Weekend. I rate this circuit higher than the one in Singapore. 
The island is like a city in itself and one can easily spend more than a week exploring all that it has to offer. I am convinced that this circuit will be a part of the F1 circus for many more years to come! Time to draw up plans for another visit this year!

The F1 Travel Guide : Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal, Canada

F1, the Pinnacle of Motorsport has races spanning 5 Continents. The Canadian GP is one race that has been a regular feature on the Calendar. The teams make the journey trans-Atlantic post the glamorous Monaco GP to race at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve situated close to the city of Montreal in the State of Quebec.

The circuit is named after Gilles Villeneuve McLaren and then a Ferrari driver ( father of 1997 F1 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve ). He enjoyed a close relationship with the Ferrari Supremo Enzo Ferrari. There is also a Bronze Bust of him at Fiorani, Ferrari's test track in Maranello, Italy. 

The circuit has produced some memorable races over the years, most notably the 2011 Canadian GP which was the longest race in the history of F1. Who can forget the horrific crash of Robert Kubica in 2007 only for the Polish Driver to return and have his maiden win at the same circuit a year later!  Turns like the Senna S, the Hairpin Curve are well known but the most notorious of these is the Wall Of Champions.. just after the last turn which has ended races of so many racers ( champions included ).

Canada might be an ocean apart but its a must-visit for all F1 Fans. 

The Circuit sees a lot of visitors over a race weekend coming from all over the world. I had the opportunity to attend the 2019 Canadian GP, well known for the controversy that unfolded after the Stewards handed Sebastian Vettel a time penalty of 5 seconds for dangerously rejoining the track ( while leading the race ) thereby gifting the win to Lewis Hamilton. This circuit has characteristics similar to those at Albert Park in Melbourne ( where the season opener is held ) but offers a lot of overtaking opportunities throughout a lap. 

A new Paddock Club building was built in 2019 and its quite a sight to behold!


My Experience over the Weekend is shared here :





The Circuit Layout :



Official Website :

https://www.gpcanada.ca/en/



Location :

The Circuit is located on an Island on Saint Lawrence River, minutes away from Downtown Montreal. It can house up to 300000 spectators over a weekend and its proximity to a city ensures that there aren't too many challenges with regards to commuting ( more on that later ). Montreal itself becomes a big party destination with events happening all over the city, exotic supercars plying up and down the streets all night, fans socializing at roadside pubs and eateries..it can get quite crowded, even for pedestrians! The police and the local authorities ensure that law and order are maintained throughout and kudos to the locals for being ever so respectful to their visitors. There a few good eateries that tend to shut fairly early in the evening so one must plan for their dinner accordingly!


Closest Airports :

Pierre-Elliot Trudeau International Airport ( YUL ), is a major International Hub with airline connections to Asia, the Middle East and Europe. 
Airlines like Emirates, however, don't offer direct flights to Montreal but one can fly into Toronto Pearson International Airport ( YYZ ) and then take a domestic flight to Montreal. Flight Time from there is approximately 75 minutes. Some travellers opt for car hire or train service from Toronto and drive up to Montreal, the journey taking about 5 hours.

Montreal is also well connected to multiple cities in USA with airports in New York, Newark and Washington DC offering the shortest flight time of about 90 minutes. These cities are major hubs for Airlines from the Middle East, the Far East and Down Under. However, do note that Immigration formalities would have to be completed on either side if one opts to fly this route.

I flew Emirates to New York ( JFK ) and then later flew to Montreal ( YUL ) from Newark ( EWR ) on United Airlines.  

The Emirates Flight Experience to New York JFK is shared here :



Most Airlines in the Americas charge for check-in bags, so its best to read up on Airline Baggage policies when booking connecting flights. 
The shorter flights also have limited cabin space and most of us had to check in our carry-on bags while boarding ( which were returned to us at the aero-bridge while disembarking ), this meant removing laptops, power banks and any other Li-ion powered devices!



Where to Stay :

The proximity of the circuit to Montreal means that accommodation in the city isn't cheap. However, there are a lot of options from Hostels to Luxury Hotels. It is advisable to book well in advance and most are non-refundable rates. The city is well connected by taxis and public transport services so commuting isn't a challenge. It is not uncommon to see F1 Drivers on the streets, often riding bikes! 
I chose to stay at Hilton Garden Inn Montreal Centre-Ville which has some good restaurants and cafes in its vicinity. McLaren F1 Team also stay here for the weekend! It is a 20 to 25-minute drive to the circuit from Centre-Ville. 
Mount Royal, the name of the hill from where the city gets its name is worth the hike in the mornings. It offers some brilliant views of the city. The area also has some stay options with good places to wine and dine.
 
I don't think there is a camping facility at the circuit ( I might be wrong here ).



Circuit Access :

The circuit is situated on an island ( as mentioned earlier ) so has limited entry points by road. I had to collect my passes from near the Jean-Drapeau Metro Station on Friday and I hailed a Taxi. It dropped me close to the Biosphere Environmental MuseumThere was a lot of traffic and I had to walk for a mile to save time. ( Do Not Use this Option! )
Post Collection of Tickets, there was a Circuit Shuttle to the Casino de Montreal, a Casino on the Island from where the Access to the Paddock Club is another walk. Different shuttles are plying to different parts of the Circuit and there are considerable lines at the stops. 

If travelling by taxi, then it is best to ask the driver for a drop-off at Casino de Montreal which is like a hub and then one can walk to the stand or opt for a Shuttle ( if the grandstand is on the other side of the island ). It is one of the easiest places to queue for a cab on the return journey as well. If lucky, one can even bump into F1 reporters, ex drivers and other distinguished guests! For Paddock Club and VIP Guests its a short walk from Casino de Montreal, through an access gate, over the bridge and then into a Paddock Club Shuttle Boat to the Paddock / Paddock Club! It is quite a unique way to check-in at the circuit. Uber is also available in Montreal.
 

The easiest way to get to the circuit is by Metro, something that a couple of my friends used to get in and out of the Island. Jean-Drapeau Station is situated on the Yellow Line and commutes time can vary between 10 to 40 minutes. Regular Services run throughout the weekend and it can get quite crowded on a Sunday evening post-race, so wait out for a couple of hours at the circuit.
There are one day and multi-day rail passes on offer as well! Once at the Station, Entry Gates to the circuit can be accessed via 2 bridges, either by foot or one can take a shuttle bus that connects to the Casino. The Cosmos Bridge is closer to the stands near the Hairpin Curve, The Concorde Bridge offers access to the other Grand Stands of the circuit..its advisable to have comfortable walking shoes since its quite a trek. 



F1 Village, Fan Zones :

This was one track where I couldn't find a designated zone big enough to be termed as an "F1 Village". Merchandising Outlets are scattered all over and the options on offer are limited. The long walks to those outlets can be deal-breakers. The story is pretty similar with regards to food trackside - limited options and exorbitant prices. Thankfully food stands are in the vicinity of the grandstands. I do hope the Organisers have a relook at this. 


Fan Experiences :

Three Day Ticketholders are entitled to Track Walks and Pit Lane Walks on Thursday. There is also a Drivers' Autograph session held on Thursday. The Casino which is situated in the middle of the circuit is one of the largest in the world. Fans can spend their evenings there to unwind and wait for the crowds to leave immediately after a session. The Support Race Paddock which houses the Ferrari Challenge Cars and the Porsche Cup cars is a must-visit. It is close to the Hairpin Curve and the cars line up on the service road which runs parallel to the Back Straight. They make their way onto the track through one of the marshalling gates on the straight. It is a great way to capture some shots of these beauties! 
F1 Experiences also offer upgrades on tickets with Guided Paddock Tours, Private Podium Visits, Guided Track Truck Tours, Guided Pit Lane Tours, Photo Op with the Race Winning Trophy and the exclusive but expensive Pirelli Hot Laps Experience!



The atmosphere in Montreal over the three days is electric! The streets are crowded with fans socialising late into the night and there is a great vibe to the place. Once the sun rises, the folk flock to the island for their share of racing! There are great sights to visit just outside Montreal as well ( places like Quebec City & Montmorency Falls which is higher than the Niagara Falls ).
 
There are certain things at the circuit that need re-working on - the merchandising and food options, better connectivity and frequency of the circuit shuttles and I hope the organisers strive to improve the experience for one and all. 

I most definitely plan on visiting the circuit again..if not this year then definitely in 2021.